GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S BUDGET PROPOSAL for the coming fiscal year calls for giving the MBTA about $60 million less to cover its operating expenses.
By law, the T receives a penny of the state sales tax to fund its operations. It has also been receiving an extra $187 million annual state budget appropriation to cover budget shortfalls. Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposes giving the T $187 million again, but $127 million would come in the form of an appropriation to help cover operating expenses and $60 million would be bond funds for capital projects.
Brian Shortsleeve, the T’s chief administrator and acting general manager, said in a telephone interview that Baker’s proposal makes sense because the transit authority’s operating deficit is shrinking while its capital needs remain significant.
Shortsleeve said the T had projected it would be facing a nearly $40 million budget deficit through the first six months of this fiscal year. But he said the actual shortfall was $22.5 million, 43 percent less than the forecast.
With the fiscal 2017 shortfall shrinking, Shortsleeve said he expects to recast this year’s budget over the next three weeks to reflect the improving fiscal situation. He cautioned that debt costs and higher payments to Amtrak could put more pressure on the T’s operating budget in fiscal 2018, but overall the T is reducing its dependence on the additional state funding.
“At the T we’ve come a long way,” Shortsleeve said. “We are trending in a very positive direction.”