Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 2 Fiscal Year 2011

Governor's Budget Recommendation FY 2011

Update on Transportation Reform

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Governor Patrick    FY2011 House 2 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


The Patrick-Murray Administration is leading a radical change of the Commonwealth’s transportation systems, which have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.  In June 2009, Governor Patrick signed Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009, “An Act Modernizing the Transportation Systems of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, (as amended by Chapter 26 of the Acts of 2009, collectively, the “Act”) creating a streamlined Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). 

MassDOT represents a merger of the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOT) with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA), the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD), the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC) and the Tobin Bridge.  In addition, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Regional Transit Authorities (RTA) are subject to oversight by the new organization.  The new organization also assumed responsibility for many of the bridges and parkways formerly operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

This graph illustrates the organizational structure of MassDOT.   The department is comprised of five divisions overseen by the Secretary of Transportation and a five-member board appointed by the Governor.

The five divisions are Highway, MassTransit, Aeronautics and Motor Vehicles.

While it has an appointed board and is generally independent of the Commonwealth as a separate body politic, MassDOT continues to be governed by state laws, rules and policies, including the use of the Commonwealth’s central accounting system (MMARS), payroll system and adherence to state fiscal laws.  In addition to the operating divisions, MassDOT has a central office, referred to in the Act as the Office of Planning and Programming that will house the administrative functions (finance, human resources, procurement, legal services, and administration) of the organization, including a planning office to be known as the Office of Transportation Planning.

House 2 Recommendations for Transportation

In prior fiscal years, the annual budget included individual line items for transportation agencies and programs. The Act eliminated that structure.  The fiscal year 2011 budget recommendations reflect changes brought about by the Act.  MassDOT receives the amount appropriated from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund after obligations for debt service, contract assistance and other state transportation programs are funded.  In addition, the transferred amount also includes the sales tax earmarked to the MBTA and RTAs by Chapter 35 of the Acts of 2009.

The new line item structure is consistent with the goals of reform and provides additional transparency and flexibility for the funding of MassDOT and its component divisions.  Through the annual operating transfer, MassDOT will fund its operating divisions as well as targeted investments for the MBTA and RTAs.  Based on available revenues and projected transportation debt service, the Governor’s budget recommendation proposes to appropriate a transfer of $375.1 million (1595-6368) to the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund in fiscal year 2011 in a new section (2E), which details the state’s operating transfers.  This amount includes $160 million for the MBTA, $15 million for Regional Transit Authorities and $200 million for the operation of MassDOT.  The amount of the transfer allocated to each MassDOT division and program will be reflected in a fiscal year 2011 budget to be released later in 2010 by MassDOT.

Reform Activities and Cost Savings

Over the past seven months employees from former state transportation agencies, quasi-independent authorities and other state agencies have been engaged in implementing the historic reform act.  As a result of these activities, MassDOT is a functioning, independent department providing services to visitors and residents of the Commonwealth. As a result of transportation reform, the department has realized the following savings and efficiencies:

  • Reduced Employee Benefits Costs: The transfer of employees to the Group Insurance Commission will save MassDOT and the MBTA an estimated $30 - $40 million annually. The first transfer of employees will occur on February 1, 2010.
  • Lower Borrowing Costs: The Commonwealth avoided $261 million in termination payments associated with interest rate swap agreements as transportation reform legislation prompted an upgrade of the former MTA’s bond rating. Additional savings will be generated as the higher rating provides access to lower cost funding sources, increased opportunity to re-finance existing debt at lower rates, and the capacity to raise additional funds for capital improvements.
  • Consolidation of Administrative Functions: The savings impact of consolidation initiatives completed in the first 3 months is estimated to be $2 million annually. These initiatives include the integration of the former MTA’s accounting system onto the Commonwealth’s Massachusetts Management, Accounting, and Reporting system (MMARs) and the consolidation of worker’s compensation administration with the state’s existing worker’s compensation department. Savings are also being realized as the former MTA benefits from the Commonwealth’s tort reform legislation and insurance programs. Efforts to further consolidate MassDOT’s finance, HR, and IT functions are also underway.
  • Operational Efficiencies: Savings of over $5 million have been generated by replacing the existing 511 information news service, forming a partnership with municipalities and state agencies to use rent free locations for the Registry Division and the development of a public-private partnership at the Registry Division to reinstate electronic courtesy notes for driver’s licenses and ID renewals at no cost to taxpayers. Areas targeted for additional savings include procurement and fleet.

    The new MassDOT website,, is routinely updated with progress reports demonstrating the department’s commitment to safety, transparency and the goal of creating one transportation system for the Commonwealth. 

Prepared by Thom Dugan, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information contact: (617) 727-2040

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