Tuesday, May 12, 2009

MassGOP Research Briefing

Reform Delayed

Governor Patrick Has A History of Delay On Reform

It took Governor Patrick 16 months to file a transportation reform bill

In October 2007, Patrick's Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen said that the toll hike to $1.25 at Allston-Brighton and Weston and $3.50 at the Ted Williams and Sumner tunnels was in only a short-term solution: "Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, who is chairman of the turnpike board, said the toll hike was only a short-term solution in anticipation of Patrick's proposed reforms, including a merger of the Turnpike Authority with the state Highway Department." (AP, 10/4/07)

Secretary Cohen called for reform "within the next year": "If a comprehensive reform of transportation does not occur within the next year that refinances the Big Dig debt, the bond covenant that we inherited will force us to come back and seek additional toll revenues,' Cohen said at the meeting." (AP, 10/4/07)
Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth): "We haven't received a transportation plan from the governor, but the Legislature will be ready to work on the proposal once it is filed." (AP, 10/4/07)

In December of 2008, legislators asked for Governor Patrick's transportation plan:

State Senator Steve Baddour (D-Methuen): "Isn't the time now to say to the board that we shouldn't go forward with a dramatic increase, that this is the time to do the minimum needed to meet the bond requirements," said Baddour, who also expressed frustration about the pace of getting a reform package to lawmakers. "We've been talking about comprehensive reform for a long time but we still haven't seen the details," he said. (AP, 12/10/08)

Sixteen months after Secretary Cohen called for reform "within the next year", Governor Deval Patrick filed a transportation reform package. (Boston Globe, 2/20/09)

Governor Patrick announced the creation of a pension reform commission...six months after the deadline

On March 22nd, Governor Patrick proposed a several pension reforms: Governor Deval Patrick laid out a series of proposed reforms to state and municipal pension systems yesterday, even though he and legislative leaders acknowledged that they are not likely to bring immediate relief to the state's budget crisis. They are needed, however, to restore public confidence in state government, he said. (Boston Globe, 3/23/09)

Governor Patrick: "It's plain to us and plain, I think, to everybody, that the abuses and loopholes in the system are discrediting the system and distracting from the good work of state government and, frankly, just making everybody mad," Patrick said in an afternoon press briefing at his State House office. "That has to end, and it has to end now." (Boston Globe, 3/23/09)

But the State House News Service reported that the pension reform commission was established six months after the deadline: The pension reform commission Gov. Deval Patrick touted with fanfare Sunday came six months after a statutory deadline for the panel's establishment. (SHNS, 3/26/09)

Governor Patrick also failed to produce a report on efficiency: Despite a recent focus on cutting state spending, budget balancing and reforming inefficient government practices, Patrick, who in January termed this a season of reform, has also failed to produce a legally required report on government-wide efficiency efforts. (SHNS, 3/26/09)

As of last week, Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) noted that Governor Patrick "never filed a pension bill.": Lawmakers have spent the early part of the two-year legislative session crafting bills to revise transportation bureaucracy, pension and ethics laws, with the vast majority of other legislation still awaiting public hearings. Murray noted that Patrick "never filed a pension bill" and that officials from his transportation department were actively collaborating with lawmakers on a compromise transportation bill. (SHNS, 4/28/09)