Wellesley Legislators Talk Budget, Transportation
Wellesley's delegates reported to the Board of Selectmen, speaking mostly about the Governor's budget proposal.
It could be a big year for the MBTA and local schools, depending on how the Governor's budget is received.
Wellesley's delegates to the Mass. House of Representatives and Mass. Senate spoke to the Board of Selectmen at last night's meeting. The bulk of their report centered on the upcoming budget for the Commonwealth.
Earlier this year, Governor Deval Patrick proposed a budget plan that would call for a $1.9 billion revenue increase, through a slew of changes to taxes, deductions and fees. Patrick's plan, which officials described as "ambitious," would increase funding to transportation, education and local aid.
Senator Richard Ross noted, "Shy of having big increase in revenue, which the Governor would like to make, I don’t see full support."
A change to the capital gains tax could affect resident statewide, Senator Cindy Creem observed, particularly people on a fixed income. She said she had received a number of calls from members of clergy, whose housing exemption may be on the chopping block as well.
What the Governor proposed is merely the beginning of the process. The House's version of the budget is still being developed. After that, the Senate will take a look at the budget before anything is approved.
Wellesley State Rep. Alice Peisch explained, "It's unlikely to be identical to what the Governor is proposing, but I imagine a fair amount of it will go through in some form or another."
However, if the Governor's plans go through, the bulk of the benefit will go to schools, and to services like the commuter rail and MBTA. Significant portions of the budget are going to improvements to things like rolling stock and station improvements.
Selectman Donald McCauley added, "I think it’s a keystone of the regional economy which gets neglected."
An aspect of the MBTA that Wellesley residents may be concerned about is the RIDE, door-to-door service for elderly and disabled travelers. Selectman Ellen Gibb asked about what the future of the service held.
While the service is mandated, to a certain extent, Peisch believes the RIDE will continue in some form. She said some communities are experimenting with a taxi voucher program, which is proving more cost-effective. There may be a more rigourous look at what services are needed.
"For people unable to get to fixed-route transpotation, there will continue to be a service provided," she added.
"It’s something we need to address as a Commonwealth: how we manage transportation. It’s something that every one of the committees we’re on are looking at," Ross commented.
He noted that the delegates sit on 26 committees between the three of them.
Thus far, the delegates said they have not heard much about the effects of Washington's sequester.