No Bailout for Lehman Bros., MBTA, or the Turnpike

1221493410This summer, it looked like both the state and local governments were in a forgiving mood. The feds bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and local government officials were talking about helping to save the Turnpike Authority and the MBTA from their fiscal nightmares.

But now the good times are over. Washington refused to save Lehman Brothers from its financial woes, forcing the company to file for Chapter 11. Meanwhile, Beacon Hill is slapping a fiscal Band-Aid on our favorite money-hemorrhaging transit agencies and hoping it holds.

The state’s plan, which has been in the works for about a month, will save the agencies about $13 million. That’s a good chunk of change for you or me, but it’s the equivalent of finding a $10 bill on the sidewalk for the MBTA and the Pike.

Next year, the agencies will face a combined $200 million budget gap. The MBTA is $8 billion in debt. The Turnpike Authority may need the state to co-sign its loans to keep it from needing to scrounge up $200 million for a lump-sum payment for the swaption deals Matt Amorello made.

But there is a silver lining. Guess which bank the Turnpike Authority owes money to? That’s right—Lehman Brothers. Ain’t karma grand?