Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Friday signed into law a bill to end the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority by the end of the year.
At the same time, the Massachusetts Port Authority Thursday approved a $364 million fiscal 2010 operating budget that is $13 million less than its current spending plan while the agency prepares to defease $20.8 million of Tobin Bridge debt.
The transportation reform act will eliminate MassPike and create a new bonding agency that will oversee most roadway and mass transit systems in the state. The new authority will also acquire the Tobin Bridge from MassPort. The governor signed the transportation reform bill on Friday. MassPort officials Thursday delayed voting on the $20.8 million defeasance as the initiative had yet to become law. The agency plans to use funds from its $874 million capital budget to pay down the debt.
While the agency will relinquish the Tobin Bridge, it will, under the transportation reform act, acquire the Worcester Regional Airport by July 2011.
In looking at its operating budget, this is the second year in a row that MassPort has scaled back on expenditures. Budget cuts include hiring freezes, no increases in wages for non-union employees, reducing travel expenses, equipment, and outside services, and implementing $700 million of savings over 30 years through retirement benefit reforms.
Patrick last week said he expects to sign an ethics reform bill that lawmakers passed last week. He has until today to review a $27.4 billion fiscal 2010 budget. That spending plan includes a sales-tax increase, with $260 million of those additional funds going towards transportation needs.