BOSTON (WWLP) - In a 105 to 47 vote Wednesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a final transportation funding bill Wednesday that raises $500 million dollars in new taxes. By 2017, that number will jump to $800 million dollars.
"There's a great need for transportation infrastructure improvements so what we did today was we dedicated a funding stream to be able to make those improvements and invest in Massachusetts so that we can help the economy grow," said Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield).
The greatest impact to Western Massachusetts will be a plan to reinstate the turnpike tolls between exit 1 in West Stockbridge and exit 6 at Interstate 291, east of Springfield. Taxes on gas will go up by 3-cents, cigarettes will increase by one dollar per pack, and there will be new sales taxes on computer design services and software modifications. Republicans oppose the legislation.
"I think that the people of Massachusetts under the current fiscal and economic times just can't handle it and so for the purposes of transportation and the way they proposed it, I don't think that this is a good vote to vote yes," said Rep. Todd Smola (R-Palmer).
One Amherst Democrat told 22News the legislation doesn't raise enough taxes.
"I had hoped that we would raise the income tax," said Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst). "That clearly is not the mood of the Legislature and so I think this is probably the best we can do right now."
Representative Story supports Governor Deval Patrick's plan to increase taxes by about $2 billion dollars, in part, by raising the state income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent. But Story voted in favor the state Legislature's compromise bill because of the important investments it makes on road and bridge repair right now.
Patrick said he will veto the transportation bill if it doesn't raise enough taxes to fix the state's infrastructure. He has yet to comment of the final plan approved by the House.