BOSTON (State House News Service) - Legislative leaders on Tuesday swiftly rejected Gov. Deval Patrick's plan to shore up transportation financing legislation with added gas tax or toll revenues, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray knocking down Patrick's proposal as he was describing it to reporters in his office.
"Last week, the Legislature passed a carefully calibrated revenue proposal that solves long-standing financial problems within the transportation system," Murray and DeLeo said in a statement. "The administration's proposal tying the question of tolls in Western Massachusetts - a plan not even mentioned in its original bill - to a 4 cents gas tax increase places too high a burden on the taxpayers of our state. This threatens working families and businesses still fighting to overcome the financial downturn. Therefore, we will ask our respective chambers to reject the administration's proposal."
Patrick said legislative leaders have understood "all along" his concern that their proposal eventually generate at least $800 million in new long-term transportation revenues and made clear he won't support the bill without an amendment to his liking. "I will not tell people this bill raises $800 million for transportation when it doesn't. To me this last point is a matter of public trust," Patrick said. It appears Murray and DeLeo are confident they can override a potential Patrick veto. If not, the past several months of effort to pass a transportation financing bill could end up being a failure.
Asked about the swift rejection of his amendment from House and Senate Leaders, Patrick said, "People say a lot of things in this building and then we get to where we need to get to, so I'm not going to worry about that."
While in California last week, Patrick released a statement to announce he could not support the transportation financing bill and planned to send it back with an amendment. His aides released that statement as the Senate was debating the bill.
Copyright State House News Service