BOSTON (WWLP) - As expected, the State Senate rejected Governor Deval Patrick's amendment to a transportation-tax bill in a 29 to 9 vote.
The Governor's changes would have raised the gas tax if the state stopped collecting toll money on the turnpike in 2017.
State Senators were invited into the Governor's office the morning of the debate, but the last-minute meeting fell short of convincing enough Democrats to vote against their leadership. Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) seemed to deny she pressured Senate members to vote with her in rejecting the Governor's amendment.
"Why don't you ask every single one of my members if somehow I strong-armed them into taking that vote today?" said Murray. "I think we had a very productive Caucus, we went over the governor's concerns, everyone understands it but we all think we gave him a good bill and we're hoping that he'll accept it."
The transportation-tax bill raises $500 million in new taxes on items like gas, tobacco and computer software services. It generates $800 million in total to repair the state's roads and bridges, like the renovation of the elevated section of I-91.
"The price tag on that is about $400 million dollars, so the sustained revenue pool that will be available in this tax package will literally provide the early resources to begin studying, designing, and understanding what exactly we need to do," said Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield).
The legislation also requires the PVTA's advisory board to propose a transportation plan to add routes, extend services and potentially freeze fares.
"Forward funding the PVTA, we're led to believe, will ward off fare hikes. We're hopeful it will do that," said Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham).
Governor Patrick says he will veto the transportation-tax bill, but both the House and Senate have shown that they have the votes to override his veto.