Mass. Senate focuses on the “T,” as budget debates begin

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BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Republican Governor Charlie Baker sat down with “T” riders Monday. They are worried the public transit system will not be able to handle another brutal winter.

“Winter is not exactly that far away. All of these people said that they dread next winter because they worried they’re going to be dealing with the same issues,” said Baker.

It is the Governor’s final push to convince state lawmakers to create a Control Board to take over the “T” and its finances. A series of winter snowstorms paralyzed Boston’s public transit system, leaving many commuters stranded in the cold for hours. Service delays and cancellations became the “new normal” for more than a month.

It is budget time and money is tight this year, as state lawmakers work to close a $1.8 billion spending gap. Western Massachusetts residents do not have access to the “T.” Westfield State Senator Don Humason told 22News residents should pay attention because it all boils down to tax dollars.

“The money we could save by reforming the ‘T’ would go a long way toward making sure shortfalls like that don’t occur in the future,” said Sen. Humason (R-Westfield).

All six Senate Republicans voiced support for the Governor’s MBTA proposal. Now, they just have to convince their 34 Democratic colleagues that it is a good idea.

“We feel that the Senate is governed by its members and we can make a compelling case to the members who are hearing from their constituents that they need to act,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) said he is skeptical of an MBTA Control Board. The Senate is scheduled to begin budget debates on Tuesday.

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