Over the predictable protests of the Republican minority, the House on Monday refused to take a quick vote on a likely unaffordable cut in the state sales tax. But lawmakers' failure to take timely action on a transportation borrowing bill is not nearly as forgivable, given the threat it presents to essential road and bridge projects throughout the commonwealth.
The failure by Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to reach agreement on a $1.5 billion transportation bond "could cost construction jobs and force cities and towns to delay infrastructure projects until next year," the State House News Service reported this week. The Senate favors the more comprehensive bill put forward by the Patrick administration, while House leaders would prefer a more limited package.
All parties are in agreement that Chapter 90 funding — essential for many local road projects — should be funded at $200 million.
With or without a conference committee, House and Senate leaders should reconcile their differences quickly, or at least pass a separate bill authorizing the Chapter 90 funding before we're halfway through the construction season. An early spring doesn't help municipalities if the money for essential projects remains stuck on Beacon Hill.