BOSTON (WWLP) - Next Wednesday the gas tax will go up by three cents per gallon. Smokers will see their cigarettes increase by one dollar per pack. The state's 6.25 percent sales tax will also be tacked onto certain computer software services. All this in effect after the state Legislature overrode Governor Deval Patrick's veto to a $500 million dollar tax bill that generates revenue to improve the state's roads and bridges.
"I'm not too enthusiastic about these taxes either …but the money is desperately needed, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do these things," said Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham).
The bill also gives the Department of Transportation 90 days to come up with a plan and timeline to reinstate the Western turnpike tolls from exit 1 in West Stockbridge to exit 6 for Interstate 291 to Springfield.
"Date of implementation for tolls is uncertain, that is open-ended, there is no specific date," said Rep. Joe Wagner (D) Chicopee. "The language calls for a fair tolling structure, meaning that they can only raise what they need to maintain the road."
The DOT must also complete a study by the end of the year to see if new border tolls should be set up throughout Massachusetts to charge people going in and out of the state.
"We in the Legislature, I think, thought it was a good idea to examine ideas of putting tolls at the border areas of the state to maybe get a little bit of income from people that are coming into Massachusetts," said Sen. James Welch (D-Springfield).
State lawmakers say the gas tax hike will put Massachusetts in the middle of the road when comparing competitive gas prices in other states. They emphasize that the taxes they've approved are far less than what the governor wanted. Governor Patrick wanted to raise about $2 billion in new taxes, including a 19-cent increase on the gas tax.