Massachusetts lawmakers continue work on transportation deal

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/11/2013

Leading state lawmakers in Massachusetts are pursuing plans to pay for needed road, bridge and transit work. One initiative includes a provision to increase the state’s fuel tax rate by 3 cents.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced early this year a $1.9 billion proposal to boost funding for transportation and education. His plan relied on increasing the state income tax by 1 percent while cutting the sales tax by 1.75 percent.

House lawmakers voted on Monday, April 8, to advance to the Senate a $500 million transportation finance plan that would raise the state’s fuel tax and business taxes. The Democrat-led proposal also includes a price hike on tobacco.

The state’s fuel tax rate would increase from 21 cents to 24 cents per gallon to raise $110 million a year. In 2015, the tax would also be tied to the consumer price index, which would allow for regular increases.

Supporters say the plan would keep Massachusetts competitive with neighboring states and would make more money available for local projects.

Patrick said the legislative proposal doesn’t do enough to meet the state’s immediate or long-term needs. The Democratic governor said that he would veto it unless lawmakers add more revenue sources.

“I want to be clear that I cannot support another effort to kick the can down the road, and I won’t,” Patrick said in a press release.

Senate President Therese Murray has indicated that more money would be made available for transportation by the Senate. Specifically, more money would be made available by redirecting revenue from other parts of the state budget.

The Senate’s revised plan would put another $125 million toward transportation in five years.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts, click here.

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