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Markey: transportation funds vital to economic development

Date: 8/14/2015

SPRINGFIELD – In a swing through Western Massachusetts on Aug. 11, Sen. Patrick Markey spoke about economic development issues, as well as the need to better fund the efforts to address the epidemic of opiate addiction.

Markey met with the press in the offices of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Markey said the federal government should increase funding for law enforcement and treatment centers and he praised the approach Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe has taken in treating addicts.

Markey said there should be a movement calling for prescriptions with the lowest level of medication, a greater number of treatment slots and more education for doctors.

“We need to think about it in an integrated fashion,” he said.

Markey explained a common theme as he met with elected officials in Pittsfield, North Adams and Northampton, as well as Springfield, is the need for greater transportation resources.

“We need to increase funding for transportation,” he said.

Markey said he is working on a transpiration bill that would send $1 billion a year to Massachusetts for infrastructure projects. He said he and the bill’s supporters have been “stymied” for the last several years, though.

An east-west commuter train connection would be funded in part by such a bill, and Markey said the Commonwealth requires that kind of federal support for such a project.

What has made large-scale transportation projects difficult to start is inadequate funding. Markey explained that “short term bills” can’t finance “long term plans.”

Markey said there is currently no new Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) pending, but that he, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Richard Neal and Rep. Niki Tsougas have put together a coalition in anticipation of a new BRAC.

“We’re in the readiness phase,” he said and added the members of Congress have been assembling facts about Westover Air reserve Base, among other military facilities in the Commonwealth.

Markey has made no decision as yet whether or not he will support the nuclear deal with Iran. He said the “key” was to make sure the means to verify compliance with the accord is in place.

He said he has attended a “dozen briefings” and will come to a decision shortly.

Although he has not announced his choice for the Democratic nominee for president, he did offer that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be “difficult to beat.”

When asked to comment on the Republican side of the race, Markey smiled and said that as a Democrat, “it’s impossible to get inside of the cerebral machinations of Republican primary voters.”

He added he “will never really understand them.”

Markey offered the opinion with a laugh, “I think they are doing a good job right now with their support of Donald Trump.”