Hello everyone and Happy Friday!
Here’s a brief update on our state advocacy work for the past week:
Proposed Fare Increases for The RIDE
AARP Massachusetts along with 14 other organizations wrote to the MBTA Board of Directors in opposition to a 5 percent increase to The RIDE’s premium service fare. The letter and oral testimony were delivered to the board on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and copies of the letter are being mailed directly to Gov. Patrick, Secretary Davey, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) board.
The letter states that the “implementation of a $5 so-called "premium" fare for trips beginning or ending outside the 3/4-mile corridor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); trips outside the hours of operation of the fixed route system; and same-day requested or modified trips are imposing a heavy burden on some of the least able to afford it. This comes only months after the MBTA board and administration reduced fares for the ADA RIDE fare from $4 to $3, publicly acknowledging the hardship caused by a previous extreme fare increase.
The organizations are urging the MBTA board to establish a more equitable transit fee structure that incorporates a tiered fare and eliminates the premium fare. The letter urges the board to “reject any proposals to increase fares for those most in need – older residents, persons with disabilities, students, and those with low incomes.”
Please stay tuned for more information on this issue as it develops.
Fiscal Year 2014 Supplemental Budget Update
The Massachusetts General Court has completed its debate on the Fiscal Year 2014 supplemental budget. The document includes funding for the following two important programs:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): This is a federal block grant administered by states that helps many struggling individuals and families across the nation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The supplemental budget included an additional $1.7 million for the state contribution to LIHEAP, on top the $18 million that the federal government just released. This is a total increase of $20 million.
- Prescription Advantage: This is the Commonwealth’s prescription drug insurance plan that is available to Massachusetts residents age 65 and older, as well as younger individuals with disabilities who meet income and employment guidelines. Additional funding for Prescription Advantage was included in the supplemental budget in order to cover deficiencies in the program.
As part of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget process, we will continue to urge legislators to allocate additional funding for these important programs.
Please contact your state legislators and thank them for including funding for LIHEAP and Prescription Advantage in the 2014 supplemental budget.
Thank you for your continued support of AARP’s legislative priorities.