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King Submits New MBTA Proposal

Appeals to Legislature to Avoid Shutdown 'Calamity'

By Linda S. Drucker

To avert a possible mass transit shutdown this weekend, Gov. Edward J. King yesterday submitted a new proposal to bail out the bankrupt Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and reorganize its troubled management.

Recalling the legislature for its second special session in less than two weeks, King appealed for action to avoid the "potential human calamity" of a shutdown that would affect more than 200,000 daily riders.

If the legislature fails to authorize additional funding for the "T" by Friday, a court order will shut the system--possibly until January 1.

The state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that King acted illegally in spending state and local funds to keep the MBTA running after it depleted its $302 million budget for 1980. But it delayed an order shutting down the system until midnight Friday, giving the legislature time to intervene.

While King termed his most recent bailout proposal a compromise "which meets the essential concerns of all parties," legislators predicted yesterday that despite mounting pressure to resolve the crisis, King will encounter significant opposition.

"King's bill simply isn't going to float," State Rep. Michael Barrett '70 said yesterday, maintaining that "King clearly doesn't have the votes."

Although the bill includes several key management reforms sought by the legislature and the MBTA Advisory Board, the board said it would continue to oppose a bailout of the debt-plagued agency until King agrees to a comprehensive overhaul of the system's financing.

Members of the Advisory Board yesterday attacked King's bill for failing to provide property tax relief to the 79 cities and towns which must split the "T's" deficit with the state.

"Under this bill, we're as bad off as we were before," James E. Smith, an Advisory Board spokesman, said yesterday.

Legislators from western areas of the state, who represent districts with no MBTA service and have little incentive to bail out the system, said they too would oppose King's latest proposal. "As far as I'm concerned, the system can shut down," State Rep. William D. Benson said yesterday.

The bill King filed yesterday was given a prompt public hearing by the Transportation Committee. House Majority Leader George Keverian said debate on the measure would begin today. Meanwhile, with holiday shopping underway, the business community mounted a lobbying effort to get the legislature to resolve the month-long crisis.

King's bill would allow the agency's board of directors to override the Advisory Board's refusal to give the MBTA supplemental funding this year. It would also give the governor a vote equal to that of Boston in Advisory Board decisions, a step which would deprive the Advisory Board of its independence in evaluating MBTA budget requests, Smith said.

The bill would also allow management to establish productivity standards, bar automatic cost-of-living increases, and end practices attacked by many legislators as wasteful--computing overtime earnings in pension calculations and requiring an extra doorman for every two cars.

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