As MBTA fares increase, so do state house salaries

As news broke this week about the MBTA proposing another fare hike, I found myself thinking about the salary increase over at the State House. Yes, folks, in a move that has went largely ignored by local media and a few others, the State Legislators have once again voted to give themselves pay raises. Gov. Charlie Baker will sign off on it, even giving himself a increase not only in salary but also an increase in his housing stipend.

Baker refused to take a pay increase a couple of years ago, so I guess since he’s gotten that re-election out of the way he’s good. The last time the legislators gave themselves a raise the outrage was very loud, but this time around there’s been nary a peep, and why not? After all everyone is so focused on Trump and his little temper tantrums I guess they thought that they could sneak this one by; and they were right. There’s hardly been much of an uproar anywhere than I can see.

The very fact that just a month ago it was revealed in the HUD report that there are 20,000 people experiencing homelessness in the state should give our elected officials pause on giving themselves a pay increase. Apparently it hasn’t. Just within the last couple of weeks a homeless couple died sleeping in a tent on one of the coldest days of the year, an old friend who was homeless passed away in Central Sq in Cambridge. That in itself should make them say, “Well you know maybe this isn’t the best time to have a pay increase.” But again that’s not the case.

And as if that wasn’t enough the MBTA is ready to increase fares again. To hear them tell it you’d think it’s been decades since the last fare hike. 2016 wasn’t that long ago. It’s a 6.3 percent hike across the board which translates to 10 cents for a the Subway and 15 cents for buses, of course T-Passes including those for seniors will go up.

As usual the T administration wants you to know that the need to do this to make improvements in its service. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, that’s what they said for the last two increases and I have yet to see any improvements. But like the pay raises the costs will be passed on to us. At some point everyone will wake up and see that are local politicians and their cronies are just as bad as those in Washington. Hopefully it won’t be too late.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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