State Representative Dave Rogers

On the Hill


Transportation Funding

After a transportation funding debate that lasted for six months and has defined this legislative session to date, the final act came when both the Senate and House overrode Governor Patrick’s veto of their transportation finance package.  As a result, the plan has now passed. It raises the gas tax by 3 cents/gallon, raises the cigarette tax and imposes a tax on certain software services.  Many had hoped that this session would see the passage of a revenue package that was more progressive (pegged to an individual's ability to pay) and sufficient to fund more priorities beyond transportation.  Instead, the leadership of the House and Senate favored a smaller, transportation-only revenue plan.  This set up a months-long debate between the Legislature and the Governor.  Along with several of my progressive colleagues, I resisted the House plan, arguing that $500 million was not even enough to address our transportation woes (let alone properly fund our schools and provide adequate resources to many other critical social service agencies whose funding was deeply cut in the recession).  Our advocacy proved fruitful when the Senate passed a plan that would devote as much as $800 million to transportation by the year 2018.

While I was willing to support the plan after it improved in the Senate, the Governor was not. He argued that the plan does not raise the money it purports to raise because in 2017 tolls on the Mass Pike might come down.  While I was a staunch ally of the Governor throughout the debate and took a very tough vote in support of his initial plan, I found this tolling argument to be unpersuasive.  The tolls are unlikely to come down for several reasons, most notably because the Secretary of Transportation would have to certify the highway is in a “state of good repair” which experts agree it is not.  I do believe, as did my like-minded colleagues, that this package will be a very meaningful step in our efforts to build a 21st century transportation system. It will 1) raise revenue for badly needed long-term capital investment, 2) allow the MBTA to cease paying its employees with debt financing, and 3) keep T fares at the current level for the coming year (and most likely only increasing at a manageable rate thereafter).  

The State Budget

With the close of the transportation finance/revenue debate, the FY2014 budget has also been finished.  The budget includes some major steps forward, and while it is far from perfect it funds a number of important priorities.  Here is a link to an article I recently wrote on the budget (While this article discusses Belmont-specific numbers for some aspects of the state budget, I am publishing one for each of Arlington and Cambridge). For those of you who simply would like to know some of the highlights, here are a few important budget developments on issues for which I strongly advocated:
  • Each of the communities that I represent should see a 50% increase in Chapter 90 funding for roads and bridges  (Governor Patrick has recently announced that, despite the Legislature's approval, he is not sure the revenue package passed by the Legislature will support a 50% increase) as well as increases in both Chapter 70 funding for education and unrestricted general government aid.
  • State environmental agencies will see a 6% funding increase after years of cuts.
  • Higher education funding is up by over $100 million, enough to prevent any tuition increases for the UMass system, provide additional financial aid grants, and establish a Science, Technology, Engineering (STEM) initiative.
  • An additional $15 million has been provided for early education, the first increase in this area for several years.
  • Funding rose by $48 million for the long cash-strapped Department of Mental Health; additional language will mandate mental health parity.
  • Some dental care will be reintroduced for low income adults who have Mass Health.
  • Funding for local Councils on Aging rose and an additional $6.2 million has been provided for elder home care.
  • Funding for homelessness prevention and substance abuse treatment will rise.
There are many more highlights to go with these, but perhaps most notable is that while the FY ’14 budget represents an almost 5% increase in spending and the good that comes with it, the Rainy Day fund will still hold well over $1 billion. This fact ensures that Massachusetts will maintain its excellent AA+ credit rating.   With a robust budget, money in the bank, and a superior credit rating, this budget leaves Massachusetts on sound financial footing.

Public Housing Reform

One of the major issues that will be taken up by the Joint Committee on Housing (of which I am a member) and then by the Legislature will be reformation of public housing authorities.  Governor Patrick has put forth a bold and unprecedented plan to combine roughly 240 local housing authorities into 6 regional housing authorities.  As with most ambitious proposals, the plan is controversial.  While many agree that some reform is called for, few have come out publicly in support of the Governor’s plan.  In light of this controversy, the members of the Housing Committee are touring the state to both hold hearings and visit housing authorities.  This fact-finding mission serves a dual purpose.  First, this tour educates newer committee members as to the pros and cons of the current structure of public housing in Massachusetts.  Second, hearings conducted around the state provide Massachusetts citizens with an opportunity to make their opinions on this crucial issue known.  The Housing Committee has thus far visited Watertown, Cambridge, Holyoke, and Springfield. The consensus slowly taking shape seems to be that some measure of reform is necessary. That said, support for a plan as far-reaching as the Governor’s is lukewarm. I look forward to continuing to learn about and work on this issue as the session continues, will keep you up to date and will welcome your views on the topic.

Longfellow Bridge

Many of you may have noticed – either in the papers or in person – that the Longfellow Bridge (the Salt and Pepper bridge) is under construction. Cars are no longer able to travel from Boston to Cambridge, which as you can imagine has already caused substantial traffic headaches.  The bridge, which has long been in need of serious structural work, is being repaired under the Patrick Administration’s Accelerated Bridges Program. For more details about the project, detour routes, and coming MBTA closures on weekends during construction season (August 10-11 being the first closure), please visit MassDOT’s Longfellow Bridge page

Events

Shakespeare in the Park!

Come see the Actors Company perform Romeo and Juliet at Robbins Farm Park on August 18th at 5:00 pm.  The rain location is the Arlington Center for the Arts (41 Foster Street).

Spy Pond

Come help keep your pond clean!  Join with the friends of Spy Pond on Saturday, August 17th from 10:00 am to 1:00 p.  The rain date is Sunday, August 18th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Rent canoes and kayaks to take out on Spy Pond!  Every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.  For more information call the Arlington Recreation Department at 781 316 3880.

Meet Belmont

Come to one of the best, busiest, and most informative events of the year in Belmont.  Meet Belmont features community groups and town organizations offering information about who they are and what they do.  Look no further than here to find out more about what goes on in Belmont! 

Meet Belmont is on August 27th, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Chenery Middle School, 95 Washington Street, Belmont, MA  02478.

The Rogers Report

Please check out the first two episodes of my new TV show, The Rogers ReportYou can watch it here, at the Belmont Media Center website.  The format of my show will more or less be the same from episode to episode: a review of state affairs and then an interview with a guest.

My first guest was Senator Will Brownsberger’s chief of staff Barbara Miranda, with whom I had an engaging and informative discussion on public service.  My second guest was Nava Niv-Vogel, the director of the Belmont Council on Aging, so watch for a new episode! 

Tune in on Thursdays at 8:00 pm, Tuesdays at 7:00 pm, or Saturdays at 3:30 pm.

Office Hours

The only office hours that I will be holding in August will be Tuesday, August 6th from 9:30 am to 10:30 am at the Beech Street Center in Belmont (266 Beech Street, Belmont, MA  02478).  The legislature is in recess for the month of August, and my regular office hours (Jam ’n Java, Singa Bella Cafe, and Sweet Peach Diner) will resume in September. However, I can always be reached at 617-817-9395 (my personal cell phone) and you can also call or email me at the State House. 

Payson Park Music Festival

Enjoy live music and beautiful summer evenings at the Payson Park Music Festival.  In its 24th season, the festival has long been a weekly opportunity for community members to come together.  I encourage everyone to take an evening this summer to experience this wonderful concert series.  Wednesdays at 6:45 pm in Payson Park, Belmont.

Contact Me

I welcome your input and hope to hear from you on issues of mutual concern. Email: rep.dave.rogers@gmail.com. State House office phone: 617-722-2400. Personal cell phone: 617-817-9395.
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