BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
That's how an interview of Mass. Transportation Secretary Richard Davey began on the Fox 25 Morning News Tuesday.
Fox 25 News commentator Doug VB Goudie ripped the transportation secretary on a $13 billion transportation plan laid out by Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday.
The plan calls for $5.2 billion over ten years in road, bridge and highway repair projects in order to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges and ease congestion on major arteries throughout the state. Another $3.8 billion will go to existing transit services, and $275 million for Registry and airport maintenance.
Officials said $1.02 billion will be spent annually on a number of high-impact transportation projects. Transportation officials said they hope the projects create thousands of jobs and spur economic development across the state.
"The gist of it is that for the next 10 years you want a billion plus dollars from us every year for…what purpose?" asked VB.
Davey cited that the state has been paying highway department employees using loans and has been doing so since the mid-90s, the state's plan would address that.
"Why do we pay an excise tax? I thought it was to fix the roads and bridges in the current system?" VB asked. "So where does that money go?"
"The excise tax goes to local cities and towns… potholes and local paving projects," said Davey. "Bottom line is that it's not enough. It hasn't been enough for 20 years. For the last 20 years it has not been an appropriately funded system."
VB told Davey that he distinctly remembered when both Gov. Deval Patrick and Pres. Barack Obama won re-election years ago that they said money would go to fix crumbling roads and bridges.
"Haven't we fixed our crumbling roads and bridges?" asked VB.
"We have been fixing them," said Davey. "We're doing bridges all across the state. (Patrick) proposed a gas tax in 2009 and people didn't like it so we didn't go in that direction. Those things have not solved the challenge."
"We have no crumbling roads. You maybe could sell me on a bridge or two, but our roads are fine," VB fired back.
"I think you are absolutely wrong," Davey said.
"You have a dream project, but you don't have the money," said VB. "If we don't have the money how can we be doing this stuff?"
"I would say the opposite," Davey retorted. "How can we NOT afford it? The reason why we've got unemployment so high in Fall River and New Bedford, the fourth and fifth largest cities in the Commonwealth, is because they're cut off."
"The T cannot pay for itself now, why do we add to that problem by extending it to Medford and Somerville?" asked VB. "If you can't pay for what you've got you don't get more."
Davey said the state needs to both invest in what it currently has as well as modestly investing in future expansion. Davey said the plan tackles the problems the state currently has.
"The bottom line is what we have we can't afford and what we want we can't afford," said Davey. "This plan not only articulates the vision, but how we pay for it."
"We are being honest. We cannot afford what we have today and we have to make investments," said Davey.
"I don't think Deval was being honest yesterday. When he gets up there and says, ‘our modest proposals…'" said VB. "If this is modest I don't want to see the bold proposals. You guys are asking for a billion dollars from us in every way you can possibly grab it,"
"Services cost money. If folks don't want this then what's going to happen?" asked Davey. "We'll have stunted job growth in the state. We're going to have more congestion; we're going to have broken down trains and buses across the state. That is the reality. People may not like that reality, but that's the reality."
"The other reality is that you've got this state that has systems that haven't worked in the past or that continue to lose money and you guys are like, ‘Gotta make them bigger. Gotta make them bigger,' said VB. "I can't get past that. That makes no sense. In the private sector you would never do that."
"You guys are looking at us straight in the eye and saying, ‘this is good for us,'" said VB. "I don't want to pay another $.30 for a gallon gas when it's going to the T which is losing money hand over fist."
"The point is: nothing in transportation makes money," said Davey. "We are making investments."
Watch the entire exchange on the top of this page.
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