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.”

3 replies on “Governor rejiggers funding for the T”

  1. I really don’t understand how the MBTA’s budget deficit numbers can drop by almost half in a matter of a few months. It’s like a major crisis at the beginning of the fiscal year then not so much of a crisis well before year end…year after year. Frankly, I’m sick of reading about the MBTA’s money troubles.

  2. How come only $60 million is being allocated for capital projects?

    The most recent data from the MBTA shows a $6.7 billion state of good repair cost. Bridges, signals/switches and power systems represent the largest infrastructure liability for the T, and it’s no secret that a large percentage of existing equipment needs to be replaced or requires substantial maintenance.

    The $60,000,000 represents less than 1% of the costs to modernize subway, bus and commuter rail service.

    Governor Baker has no interest in ‘fixing’ the T. That would require significantly increased spending on capital projects, something he and his administration have proven time and again they will not propose. But by casting himself as the savior of a poorly run, unpopular government agency he has scored political points; though his team of fiscal & management board members has accomplished nothing but cutting service, raising fares and trimming the fat from an organization that is far too big for its britches.

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