By Bob Katzen
The House 28-128, rejected an amendment that would provide an additional $100 million to cities and towns in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges across the state. This would be in addition to the $100 million already included in the spending package.
“Roads and schools are some of the biggest budget items for cities and towns and the primary cause of increases to property taxes on family homes, especially hurting our retired seniors,” said sponsor Rep. Kelly Pease (R-Westfield). “The Legislature and the governor passed the Student Opportunity Act that is providing more money for schools, but we need to spend more money on … roads so cities and towns can get the repairs that are desperately needed. We should not be raising taxes but prioritizing our spending. I do not know how a representative can get re-elected when they vote against money that would improve our roads. Isn’t that what our taxes are supposed to pay for?”
Opponents noted that the package already contains $100 million for roads and bridges. They said that the current formula, created decades ago, for distribution of the funds is considered unfair by many cities and towns. They argued the House should wait until an attempt is made to change the formula so that the additional $100 million will be distributed in a fairer manner.
“Local officials across the state continue to advocate for an increase to the Chapter 90 program, which provides direct funding to cities and towns for maintaining and repairing 30,000 miles of municipal roadways in Massachusetts,” said Geoff Beckwith, the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “The state has kept Chapter 90 funding flat at $200 million for the past 10 years, while the cost of repairing roads has increased by more than 40 percent. Without a permanent increase in Chapter 90 aid, local roads will crumble at a faster rate and taxpayers will bear the burden of even more expensive repairs in the years ahead.”