On Liz Warren Dropping out of Race
To us “Winthrop for Warren” workers and voters, it was was disappointing at best when Sen. Elizabeth Warren left the presidential race. She had not garnered sufficient votes to continue her pursuit as the chief leader of our nation.
I’d like to add, however, that Elizabeth Warren defined, with clear examples, the need for economic, social, racial, and criminal justice for all Americans. She continues to be an inspiration to all of us to “Dream Big and Fight Hard” for concrete solutions to unaffordable housing, medical care and medications, child care, and higher education.
By supporting Elizabeth Warren for President, we became part of a movement to make a positive difference in our communities and in our country. If anything, she taught us to continue, to persist in that movement. Thank you, Sen. Warren!
Elizabeth Warren closed her campaign with the following: “Our work continues, the fight goes on, and big dreams never die.”
Donna Segreti Reilly
“Winthrop for Warren”
It’s Time to Act on Transportation Solutions
Massachusetts is facing a statewide transportation crisis. Just this week we learned that Boston ranked worst in the US in a highly watched ranking of congestion in global cities for the second year in a row, and that Boston’s rush-hour drivers lose more time commuting (149 hours/year!) than any other city in the U.S. Transit riders and those who commute by bike or foot don’t have it much better. Faced with derailments and delays on the MBTA, inadequate regional transit in communities across the state, and deteriorating roads and bridges, residents are feeling the pain from the Berkshires to the Cape, and of course, right here in Winthrop.
Our transportation system is not just bad for our economy and our sanity, it’s bad for the climate and public health, and is now the largest source of air pollution in the Commonwealth. Rather than creating economic opportunity, our inequitable transportation system is often an obstacle. The status quo is not just unacceptable, it’s entirely unsustainable.
Fortunately, there are solutions and some are being acted upon as you read this newspaper. Under the leadership of Winthrop’s own Speaker Bob DeLeo, the MA Housing of Representatives just last week approved a major piece of legislation that will generate more than half a billion dollars for transportation infrastructure primarily through increasing taxes or fees on gasoline, large corporations, ride-hailing services, and vehicle purchases by rental car companies. Contrary to last week’s letter from Mr.Caruccio, this is not a tax attack on the working public, it’s an overdue investment in our future as a Commonwealth and a critical act to address our dual transportation and climate crises.
I’d like to respectfully clarify several of the points raised in Mr.Caruccio’s letter:
• First, the 5 cent gax tax increase would be the first since 2013- when it was raised by just 3 cents- and only the second since 1991. In those 19 years, the gas tax has lost nearly half of its value due to inflation. Consider that in 1991, the MA gas tax was 21 cents. In today’s dollars, that is 40 cents. At 28 cents, the new gas tax is actually a 30 percent tax cut, meaning even with the 5 cent increase, we have 30 percent less to spend on roads, rails and bridges than we did in 1991. Equally important to consider is that while our gas tax has increased 14 percent since 1991, MBTA fares have risen 300 percent- twice since Charlie Baker has been Governor. The gas tax is a core way that we raise money to invest in our transportation system at the state and local levels, which are seriously underfunded. Impacts on lower-income drivers can be offset with corresponding tax credits and reduced transit fare.
• Second, the proposed increase to the corporate minimum excise tax- which has not been changed in 30 years- moves from a flat $456 for all companies to a tiered structure at the top of which companies with more than $1 billion in sales would pay at least $150,000.
• Finally, the increased fees on transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft- from a 20 cent-per-trip flat fee to $1.20 for each non-shared ride and $2.20 for every luxury ride — are not to be passed directly to riders and do not apply to shared (more than one passenger in addition to the driver) rides. It’s important to consider that the impacts of TNCs on our roads and our climate have been enormous. In 2018, there were 81 million trips in MA, a 25 percent increase over the prior year, yielding a net carbon footprint of nearly 100,000 metric tons (adding about 0.5 percent to the total carbon emissions) and coming an estimated cost of $23 million in lost fare revenues to the MBTA. Nationwide, TNCs emit 70 percent more emissions than the trips they displace. The revenue from these fees will be used to solve transportation gaps, particularly in under-served communities.
For more information about H.4520 an act relative to transportation finance and h.4506 an act authorizing and accelerating transportation investments, visit www.t4ma.org/housebill. And please join me in thanking Speaker DeLeo for his courage and leadership in supporting this critical legislation.
Chair, Winthrop Transportation Committee
Boston Program Manager, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)