Editor's note: The following press release was submitted by Lindsay Thomas.
State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), who represents Medfield, has called for an end to Massachusetts' practice of borrowing money to mow grass along state highways, as well as ending other long-term borrowing to pay operating costs.
Winslow has proposed new non-tax revenues as well as savings to wean the state budget from its diet of borrowing and to promote transparency in the state's finances.
"Long-term borrowing to pay operating costs is a recipe for fiscal disaster, whether it's at the federal level or here in Massachusetts," said Winslow.
Among several new proposals filed as budget amendments, Winslow has proposed to convert the I-93 HOV (High Occupany Vehicle) lanes into HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes to raise more than $16 million yearly from drivers who opt to pay a toll for the express lanes into or out from Boston. The non-express lanes would remain free for drivers' use.
Under Winslow's proposal, the MassHighway Department would apply for federal approval to charge a Fastlane toll for any driver who wishes to use the express lanes on I-93. The express lanes would be opened to all drivers who pay the toll, not just vehicles with more than one occupant.
"Other states charge for express lanes and use variable tolls to assure that express lanes are never congested," said Winslow. Drivers who don't want to pay any toll can remain in the non-express lanes.
"This toll is completely optional," said Winslow. "Drivers could make a decision whether it's worth paying the toll to have a fast trip into or out of the city. If not, drivers can take their time and travel for free."
Winslow pointed out that the existing HOV lane is not in fact free.
"The MassHighway borrows most of its operating budget. That means the existing HOV lane is not free, it's borrowed. And it's time that we start paying for current expenses with current revenues rather than leaving more debt to our grandchildren."
Winslow cited a Cato Institute study that supports his assertion that HOT lanes reduce traffic congestion, improve the environment and raise revenue to offset highway operating costs: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv23n1/poole.pdf
So Medfield, we want to know ...
Today's question: Are you in favor of Winslow's proposal?