BOSTON (WWLP) — Four senior advocates were arrested for blocking a busy intersection in front of the State House Monday, shutting down traffic in the process. They joined more than one hundred seniors who rallied on Beacon Hill as lawmakers debated a transportation bill that seniors say is inadequate.
“I think they just want us to fade away and die. They think that you know the older we get that we’re just going to lay down and give up, but we’re not,” said Kiki Chaiton, a member of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council.
Seniors are asking lawmakers to roll back fares on public subways and buses. They say the state Legislature’s $500 million dollar transportation bill doesn’t address fares at all. Governor Deval Patrick has threatened to veto the bill if lawmakers don’t raise more money to meet the state’s transportation needs.
“I think [the governor] is demagoguing an issue to try and build support for a tax plan and he’s scaring people in the process,” said Rep. Joe Wagner (D-Chicopee).
Political rhetoric between lawmakers and the governor has been strong. Last week the governor accused lawmakers of playing a “fiscal shell game” and said their transportation bill would ask families to pay more in taxes, but receive less. Patrick made several references to I-91 in Springfield as an example of a highway that’s falling apart and needs repair.
Rep. Wagner says the Legislature’s transportation plan raises enough money to repair the state’s roads and bridges, while maintaining the state’s AA+ bond rating and saving money for future projects.
“Yeah but half a bridge means you fall off the bridge at the end of the bridge, I mean that’s the real challenge,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.
The Legislature’s transportation bill raises half the money proposed by the Patrick administration. The governor insists on raising one billion dollars in tax revenue for transportation and another one billion dollars for education.
Lawmakers say the House of Representatives is likely to pass the transportation bill. If Governor Patrick vetoes the bill it is unclear that the Legislature can override his veto with a two-thirds majority.
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