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Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray Takes Scott Brown to Task on Transportation Funding

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray sharpened the attack on Republican Senator Scott Brown this week, claiming that he is reluctant to lead on controversial issues as they come through Congress. The strong words come as Congress has been criticized by many for not being able to pass a long-term reauthorization of transportation funding. He was particularly angered by a letter from Senator Brown to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick warning the Governor against raising the gas tax. According to the Boston Herald, Murray responded with abandon:

“I appreciate Senator Brown’s interest in transportation here in the commonwealth but the fact of the matter is that for the past two years, they’ve been unable to pass the federal transportation reauthorization bill,” Murray said. “The only way that’s going to get passed is by these Scott-Brown self-proclaimed moderate Republicans to step forward and lead, not be a last-minute Larry, as he has been on a lot of these other issues. There’s no issue that’s more inextricably linked to job creation and creating jobs than transportation.”

Murray points out that Brown’s support of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would have meant a 30 percent cut in federal transportation aid to the state. He said that Brown “should be stopping at the construction sites across Massachusetts and telling these guys he doesn’t want them working anymore.” The Patrick/Murray administration needs all the allies it can find in Washington right now as it looks for ways to fund the state’s transportation projects. Massachusetts has been a bright spot in development and construction employment this year.

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Murray also reserved some blows for former MA Governor and current presidential candidate Mitt Romney, suggesting he was too late getting involved in the national debt ceiling debate to make any difference in the public argument.

The attacks come as Democrats in MA ponder whether their only way of raising funds for their transportation needs can be found in raising the gas tax, a move that would be very unpopular among constituents. Patrick and Murray have said that they are looking into all options but that raising the gas tax could provide the most direct funding for transportation needs. Patrick attempted to raise the gas tax by 19 cents in 2009 before being rejected by the statehouse. However, as a candidate in 2006, he said that, “relying for additional revenues on something we’re trying to break our dependence on doesn’t seem to me to be a formula for long-term success.” If the federal government can provide no assistance, it may be their only option.

The clamor for additional sources of transportation funding in Massachusetts has grown in recent weeks as state officials have taken stock of the fact that Washington seems less likely to provide a consistently increasing pot of aid, and may implement deep cuts. Similarly, Big Dig debt has crowded out the capacity of the state highway system and the MBTA to chip away at a backlog of maintenance needs, and the 2009 sales tax hike proved insufficient, in the eyes of transportation officials, to fully support the state’s transportation system: roads, rail, bridges, airports and maritime facilities.

It is a problem that needs a solution. The work that has already started needs to be completed and work still in the planning stages will bring new jobs to the bay state. Transportation is an issue that needs to be supported from both sides of the aisle because it has the ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Murray pointed out that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue – virulent enemies on most issues – stood together earlier this year to ask policymakers to find new ways to finance transportation infrastructure.

Murray and other Democratic leaders believe that responsibility lies on the federal government to see past their differences and help stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, a realm in which the U.S. has recently fallen behind other nations.

“The federal government, in my mind, should do its part,” Murray said. “If there’s any issue that there should be bipartisan agreement – I mean, mother of god, you’ve got Richard Trumka and Tom Donohue standing together. They stood together saying we believe you need to continue to invest and find additional ways to invest in our transportation infrastructure, because it’s jobs. Its jobs now and its jobs in our future. We need it. The federal government should not be retreating on transportation funding.


2 Comments on “Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray Takes Scott Brown to Task on Transportation Funding”

  1. [...] Go here to see the original: Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray Takes Scott … - We Party Patriots [...]

  2. Brown’s argument is based on his false assertion that Mass gax taxes are higher than the national avg. In fact, Mass. drivers pay 41.9 cents a gallon. A report produced by Ernst & Young found that the national avg. is 48.1 cents a gallon.

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