BOSTON (WWLP) - Governor Deval Patrick won't sign a major transportation-tax bill that state lawmakers say raises $800 million dollars in revenue for road and bridge repair by 2017. The bill relies on a tax hike on gas, tobacco and computer services. But Patrick says it also counts toll money from the western turnpike, even when all turnpike tolls could come down in 4 years.
"I've been clear and I've said it a million different ways that I am not going to accept this bill in its current form," said Patrick.
The governor has filed a bill amendment that says if the tolls come down, the gas tax will go up and make up the difference to guarantee $800 million dollars in new revenue.
"I strongly disagree with the governor's assessment, I will not be supporting the amendment, nor will I ask any member to support that amendment," said House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).
DeLeo says the Department of Transportation can keep the tolls up if local roads need the money. The House Speaker won't accept any further gas tax increase and released a joint statement with Senate President Therese Murray asking state lawmakers to reject the governor's proposal.
"Well that's too bad," said Patrick. "You know people say a lot of things in this building and then you know we get to where we need to get to so I'm not, I'm not going to worry about that… I'm going to trust that the Speaker and Senate President will bring it to the floor and give it a fair chance."
The state Legislature can override the governor's amendment with a two thirds majority. Both branches of the state Legislature approved the transportation-tax bill with more than two-thirds in favor – But as the House Speaker says, you can never predict a final vote.