What They're Saying: Senate Dems' MBTA Package "Weak;" Unions "Scaremongering"

BOSTON -- The Boston Herald editorial board today blasted the Senate's "weak" and "flawed" attempts to fix the broken MBTA. The paper went on to accuse the Senate of siding with political insiders over the people of Massachusetts who missed work shifts and endured nightmarish commutes during the T's collapse this winter.

And the Salem News editorial board claimed that Beacon Hill Democrats and their union allies are "no partners in MBTA reform," and are engaging in "scaremongering." 

"The self-proclaimed progressive Democrats in the Senate are showing their true stripes as old boy politicians protecting political donors," said MassGOP Executive Director Brian Wynne. "Instead of serving the hardworking people who rely on public transit to get to work everyday, the Senate Democrats are more concerned with defending special interests who stand in the way of progress."

Boston Herald: Editorial: Big stall in the Senate
"Now, everyone agrees the transit agency is in desperate need of reform. Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a bill last month that would make dramatic changes at the T, and the House in its budget proposal for fiscal 2016 went along with the most controversial of those changes — a suspension of the state’s anti-privatization statute, known as the Pacheco law. That law makes it difficult to realize significant savings within the transit system by contracting out services to private vendors. The House measure is temporary, but still a potential game-changer.

The Senate, on the other hand, took only a weak swing at T reforms in its budget — and missed.
Of course the upper chamber is, traditionally, where reasonable reforms that displease public employee unions go to die. That explains why the Senate budget does not include a suspension of the Pacheco law. And there is little optimism that senators will ever go along with the reform — particularly those who have become dependent on the generosity of the Boston Carmen’s Union.

It also explains why the budget retains the boost in funding for the T that was called for in a 2009 transportation reform bill — but ignores Baker’s request for a temporary fiscal management and control board that might actually make grown-up, fiscally responsible decisions about how the currently dysfunctional agency spends that money.

The Pacheco law, the control board and other T reforms may yet be taken up in a separate debate. But through their budget blueprint senators made clear this week not to expect particularly meaningful reforms to emerge from their wing of the State House."

Salem News: Our View: Legislature, unions no partners in MBTA reform

"When it comes to pitting the wants of the unions against the needs of the state’s taxpaying commuters, you don’t need a program to tell you which side lawmakers are on.
Boston Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien, meanwhile, testified that eliminating the Pacheco Law 'will only open the door to Big Dig-era abuses....'

Such scaremongering is unproductive, especially when O’Brien insists the union wants to be 'part of the solution' to the MBTA’s woes.

Let’s see the Pacheco Law for what it is — a way for lawmakers to protect union jobs, no matter the cost.
We’re not sure legislators will want to hear what voters tell them if more time goes by without significant progress toward remaking the MBTA into a competently run agency that provides reliable service to taxpayers at a fair price."