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April 12, 2022
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce submitted testimony in support of H.4561, An Act relative to Massachusetts’s transportation resources and climate. In addition, the Chamber urges the Legislature to re-adopt a mobility pricing commission to prepare the state for long-term transportation funding.
This legislation is the framework for how the state will spend more than $9 billion in federal and state funding generated in part by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As the Legislature and state consider how to allocate funds, and which projects to prioritize, we urge both to incorporate the following principles:
In addition to the funding principles, there are worthwhile policy items to strengthen project delivery and implementation in the proposed legislation. The changes proposed will ensure that resources can be deployed quickly and efficiently, especially in the context of federal competitive grants. The Chamber supports considering additional tools to place the Commonwealth in the best position possible to compete for these resources in new and innovation processes, including A + B procurement methods and public/private partnerships that offer additional pathways to effectively procure, finance, and build needed transportation improvements.
The Legislature should also take the opportunity to evaluate the needs of the next generation transportation system and the future of mobility pricing in the context of significant changes to commuter behavior and evolving modes of transportation. The Chamber strongly encourages the Legislature to create a special commission on mobility pricing to study how the state should finance its transportation infrastructure over the long-term. Attached is suggested legislative language.
As the Commonwealth transitions towards the use of zero-emission and electric vehicles, declining motor vehicle fuel excise revenue will cripple transportation funding in the future. The funding reduction will impact operating and maintenance budgets, as well as the state’s ability to secure debt to fund transportation investments. By 2035, only electric and zero-emission vehicles will be sold in Massachusetts, a policy reaffirmed by the Senate’s recently released climate legislation. Between this policy and the Commonwealth’s legally binding carbon reduction limits in the 2050 Roadmap legislation adopted last year, an analysis of the future of transportation financing is urgently necessary. The Mobility Pricing Commission will begin this critical conversation by evaluating equitable roadway, public transit, and other mobility funding requirements and developing pricing scenarios to achieve stable funding and other policy goals.
The Chamber appreciates the Legislature’s prompt attention to the infrastructure investment opportunities created by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Responsibly stewarding unprecedented federal resources for transportation and climate infrastructure improvements will impact the Commonwealth for generations to come.