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Senate President Stan Rosenberg joined Boston Public Radio to talk about the state budget process, a ballot question for legalizing marijuana, the Boston Olympic bid, and whether the MBTA will see drastic improvements in the near future.

Questions below are paraphrased, and answers are edited where noted [...].

The budget process can seem opaque to outsiders. How are you and fellow lawmakers opening it up this time around?

We did the budget debate and we went up on a social media in a way and to a degree that had never been done before. We had 6,100 tweets and retweets [about it].  We had a 'tweet wall' in the corridor of the State House. [...] 945,000 separate devices got one or more of those tweets during the three days. We're trying everything we can think of [...] so people can understand better what we're doing.

The state has hired a consulting team for fiscal issues related to Boston's Olympic bid. How come?

We hired a consulting team, [The] Brattle Group out of the Cambridge area, and the point of that is [...] so that we can do a deep dive and really understand — ask the right questions, get the right answers — so we can determine [...] where there's exposure for state government. Because, as we've said before, we're willing to do construction that we were going to do anyway.

Do you trust what you hear out of Boston 2024, especially in light of the 'bid book' being published?

We're still in a position where we're getting bits and pieces of information, not the whole picture. That is troubling to us. We're trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. [...] They're at the international level and we just need quality information, we want the whole picture, and we're getting closer to getting it.

Was it troubling the bid book seemed to contradict public statements by Boston 2024 officials?

That was very troubling, and it was information we wish we'd had a lot earlier, but now we're [at] a new day. We've got eyes and ears on the scene that can really help us.

Why doesn't the state pass a law that no public money can be used for the Olympics?

The Senate — in the budget debate about ten days ago — adopted a provision that essentially says, If you're going to ask for public money and expect public money you to have to come to the legislature in advance, you have to ask for it, it has to be consistent with your plan, and at that point we'll make a decision whether we're going to do it.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin has proposed a ballot initiative to help with transparency of public records. Do you support that?

We're out of step with the national trend on this. We haven't modernized this in years, and it's time to do it. There's some very good pieces of legislation pending before the legislative committee right now. I'm expecting that we'll see some legislation moving out that they recommend. It's time we modernize the system.

Are you exempt from open records laws on Beacon Hill? Why?

We receive a lot of proprietary information that is used in evaluating legislation. [...] So we have to be really careful about what we do because we get a lot of personal information, confidential information, proprietary information. That said, we have been increasing transparency in the legislature. A lot more of our stuff is up online. [...] We're heading in a better direction than we had been even ten or 15 years ago.

On Mara Dolan's radio show on Monday you said you'd back a nonbinding ballot question asking whether voters want legalized marijuana — rather than legalizing outright through ballot initiative. How come?

[If the ballot question has] some really big holes and problems with it — which then the legislature is faced with — do we fix it , or do we leave it alone? [...] We don't touch them, or touch them extremely rarely, or extremely carefully, and so most of the time it just doesn't get fixed. Look at the medical marijuana law as an example. [...] It was hardly a perfect law, and the version that got on the ballot ended up not perfecting the problems and adding some components which the legislature hadn't considered. [...] We still don't have a single one of the dispensaries open in Massachusetts.

So you want to make sure all the legal and regulatory implications are considered beforehand.

When you take a very complicated issue of this sort and you put it on the ballot and you can't touch it, [...] you can then find yourself implementing a really bad law. So, I'm not trying to quash democracy, as has been claimed. I'm trying to give people the voice to tell us they want it.

Do you support legalization of marijuana, at least conceptually?

I'll see the draft [question] and then I'll decide.

Do you agree with the spirit of the question?

I think people should be allowed to do what they want to do, as long as they don't harm anyone else.

We're probably going to the legal marijuana question on 2016 ballot.

And it's probably going to pass.

Would the legislature vote to legalize?

Drugs are a third rail [of politics].

What's your office like at the State House, now that you're Senate President?

It's an historic place that [former Senate Pres.] Bill Bulger brought back to its true historic significance and condition.

A​re you and Speaker Robert DeLeo having problems or not working together?

We meet and talk regularly. [We can] disagree without being disagreeable.

Do you think we're on our way to fixing myriad problems with the MBTA​?

It was all about the management, and management was unable to address and solve the problems [during the winter]. [...] Everybody was in agreement that there were management problems and so that is job one. [...] Secondly, the Senate did vote on a control board of a different sort than the Governor proposed, but still has many of the features and power and capacity that the Governor proposed.

So we're on our way, you're saying?

The Carmen's Union and the Governor's people are in close communications. [...] We've not heard the last word. I'm not an expert on it. What I understand we have to be most careful here is that we don't trip wires that affect our ability to maximize federal revenues. [...] Federal laws and regulations [...] may conflict with what's happening here in terms of efforts to change, or even how some of our state laws are written. [...] We want a more functional system, but we also don't want to jeopardize our federal funds.

Are fare increases on the table?

We're going to have to discuss fares again. There is a rule for how we do fare increases. [...] The Governor said that, other people have said that.

Is updating the T a 'third rail' for lawmakers, like you say marijuana legalization is?

No, no. Raising taxes is a third rail, finding revenue is a third rail, but that doesn't have anything to do with the T. [...] We have to revisit transportation financing. All you have to do is look at our roads, and look at the bottom of your car.

At the end of this, are we really going to have a completely fixed transit system?

We're going to fix the T. [...] There's a lot more coming. new cars are on the way.