To: Members of the State Senate
RE: S-2813 - Senate Transportation Bond Bill
For more information contact: Chip Ford, Executive Director
Senate Ways and Means Committee has our appreciation for avoiding
"transportation revenue," raising taxes to fund its transportation bond
bill. It was very refreshing to hear, when asked if the $16.9 proposed
borrowing is possible without additional revenue, Sen. Boncore's
succinct response, "Absolutely." Living within our means is the
hallmark of fiscal responsibility, whether among your constituents in
their daily lives or their expectations from those they elect to
with S-2813 is its Section 5, "Local and Regional Transportation
Initiatives." The best that we can determine is its genesis was in the
House's original bill, H-4547 (Section 4, "Supplemental Infrastructure
Financing for Transportation"), though the connection is a stretch. Its
commonality seems to be only in seeking a means for municipalities to
somehow raise more revenue outside the accepted restrictions of
S-2813 was released by the Senate Ways and Means Committee to the full
Senate and those attentive among the public only on Friday, without a
public hearing, outside input, or advanced warning and apparently is to
be brought to a vote of the Senate on Thursday. In light of this
abruptness, this memo of CLT's position will need to suffice.
would allow additional municipal revenue to be generated outside the
limitations of Proposition 2½ for "transportation projects."
“transportation project” is defined as "a project or program for the
planning, design or construction of public or mass transportation
transit systems, transit-oriented development, roads, bridges, bikeways,
pedestrian pathways or other transportation-related projects."
costs historically and traditionally incurred by municipalities,
properly funded within its budget by overall municipal revenue, assisted
by Chapter 90 funds rightly provided by the state.
revenue is necessary for additional transportation projects or any other
specific municipal need, Proposition 2½ intentionally provides a
mechanism: operational overrides and debt exclusions. This mechanism
has worked well for going on four decades, with debt exclusions having
been proposed and adopted for a multitude of unbudgeted projects such as
underground sewer system replacement, schools; public safety and other
municipal buildings and their repair; purchases of fire trucks,
ambulances, snow plows, and other municipal equipment; purchasing open
Section 5 is
redundant and unnecessary; a solution seeking a problem.
seems unrelated and inappropriate within a bond bill, and we wonder why
it is included.
But if it
becomes law it will create a concerning precedent that can only expand:
Municipal government services being funded à la carte.
future city or town ballot menu: Police protection, vote yes to raise
your taxes; Continuing a Fire Department, vote yes to raise your taxes;
Public Works, vote yes to raise your taxes; Schools and Education, vote
yes to raise your taxes.
overrides and debt exclusions are frequently quite divisive among
neighbors now, especially between those who can afford it and those who
can't; those who will benefit and those who won't. Does setting this
menu-style precedent really represent the direction in which you want to
lead municipal governing and civic engagement?
We hope not.
Section 5 from this bill before it can be passed and set that bad
precedent. Section 5 is not necessary.