(BOSTON) – Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the House and Senate in a vote to approve the final conference committee report on the FY21 Supplemental Budget: H.3973, An Act making appropriations for fiscal year 2021 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and projects. In addition to certain budget appropriations, the conference committee report revives the pandemic state of emergency measures for both mail-in voting and early voting in person through December 15, 2021. The conference committee report also includes language from a bill filed by Representative Meschino in the House (H.3542) and Senator Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop) in the Senate (S.2266) related to transportation governance.
For the past six years, the Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) has worked to address a host of operational challenges plaguing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The FMCB has elevated the management and operations of the MBTA, and the public came to value the FMCB’s ability to tackle issues and to work on solutions within the service area. The FMCB quickly became an avenue for public participation and the opportunity to advocate for a world class system. The FMCB’s work evolved overtime to support and to push the MBTA on climate resilience, environmental justice, and equity both pre- and post-pandemic. The MBTA has operated without a governing body since June 30 when the FMCB’s authorization expired.
The legislation establishes a new board of directors to oversee MBTA operations. The new iteration of the MBTA board of directors codifies in statute many of the benefits and positive work of the FMCB. The legislation expands the governance board’s expertise and experience and is designed to build on the FMCB’s work to change cultural expectations at the MBTA.
The new governance board will be composed of seven members, each serving a four-year term. The members include five appointees from the governor; of these, one must have safety experience, one will come from the financial sector, one will come from an environmental justice population and have experience riding the MBTA, one must have experience in transit operations, and one will come from a Massachusetts AFL-CIO shortlist. The other two members will be the secretary of transportation and an appointee possessing municipal government experience selected by the MBTA Advisory Board. Board meetings will be convened at least once a month and at least twelve times each year.
“The new governance is a win for the public,” said Representative Meschino. “The FMCB provides a key forum for public participation and municipal advocacy around the MBTA’s decision-making. Our successful efforts to keep ferry and bus service during the pandemic are the proof. I expect that the new iteration of the governance board will continue to prioritize public input, climate resilience, and environmental justice.”
The spending bill also includes, among other items:
- $131 million to help stabilize the early education and care sector;
- $31.9 million for the secretary of health and human services’s office;
- $27 million to make one-time relief payments to recipients of the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or TAFDC, program;
- $13 million to pay for National Guard activations;
- $5 million to help launch a new police standards and training commission.
The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.