I thought Mitt and his Republican Gov friends Weld, Cellucci and Swift took care of all of this money drain issue at the Big Dig in Boston. Republicans did run the state from 1991 through 2007
. And with Mitt's business acumen this should have been a "slamdunk". Glad he didn't have a REAL budget issue to deal with.
Big Dig's red ink engulfs state
Cost spirals to $22b; crushing debt sidetracks other work, pushes agency toward insolvency
By Sean P. Murphy
Globe Staff / July 17, 2008
Massachusetts residents got a shock when state officials, at the peak of construction on the Big Dig project, disclosed that the price tag had ballooned to nearly $15 billion. But that, it turns out, was just the beginning.
Now, three years after the official dedication of the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel, the state is reeling under a legacy of debt left by the massive project. In all, the project will cost an additional $7 billion in interest, bringing the total to a staggering $22 billion, according to a Globe review of hundreds of pages of state documents. It will not be paid off until 2038.
Contrary to the popular belief that this was a project heavily subsidized by the federal government, 73 percent of construction costs were paid by Massachusetts drivers and taxpayers. To meet that obligation, the state's annual payments will be nearly as much over the next several years, $600 million or more, as they were in the heaviest construction period.
Big Dig payments have already sucked maintenance and repair money away from deteriorating roads and bridges across the state, forcing the state to float more highway bonds and to go even deeper into the hole.
Among other signs of financial trouble: The state is paying almost 80 percent of its highway workers with borrowed money; the crushing costs of debt have pushed the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which manages the Big Dig, to the brink of insolvency; and Massachusetts spends a higher percentage of its highway budget on debt than any other state.
The scope of the debt has not previously been calculated, much less publicly disclosed, by the state's political leaders, including Governor Deval Patrick and his senior transportation officials. The Globe confirmed its calculations in interviews with the state's financial analysts.
"The Big Dig saddled us with costs we can't afford," said Bernard Cohen, secretary of transportation. "We are grappling with that legacy now. There are no easy answers."
The debt is a big part of why Massachusetts had the highest tax-supported debt per capita in the United States last year. Most of the Big Dig borrowing occurred when cost overruns on the tunnel network skyrocketed in the late 1990s and state officials scrambled to keep the partially completed project afloat.
The impact of the debt can be seen in some frustrating and alarming ways.
During the last three years, Massachusetts spent the most of any state, by far, 38 percent of its highway budget, on debt payments, according to Globe analysis of federal data. The median is less than 6 percent nationally.
The state has also been forced to meet payroll demands for 1,400 Massachusetts Highway Department workers with borrowed money because it does not have enough cash to pay them. That means that painters and clerical workers paid around $18 an hour cost the state $28.80 an hour. The 80 percent of the workforce being paid with borrowed money compares to 14 percent before the Big Dig work began.
Big Dig's red ink engulfs state - The Boston Globe