Massachusetts lawmakers overturn veto on transportation funding

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/25/2013

Truckers and others fueling in Massachusetts soon will pay a little more in taxes.

State lawmakers voted on Wednesday, July 24, to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a 10-year transportation funding package that will raise $800 million in taxes annually by 2018.

Specifically, the bill increases the state’s 21-cent-per-gallon fuel tax by 3 cents the first year. The new 24-cent-per-gallon rate will also be tied to inflation, which allows for regular increases. In addition, a 2.5-cent portion of the tax now applied to underground storage tank cleanups will be rerouted to transportation.

The funding package includes putting money to transportation from other sources. Roads and bridges will benefit from adding $1 to the tax on cigarettes and imposing the state sales tax on computer software services.

The tax increases kick in July 31.

Patrick vetoed the bill after lawmakers ignored his demand to include an additional 3-cent fuel hike. The governor wanted to add a provision allowing for the increase if tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike come down as scheduled in 2017.

Legislators said they will address the toll issue down the road.

The governor said in his veto statement that delaying action isn’t good enough.

“Transportation is too important to our citizens, their livelihoods, their quality of life, and our economy as a whole,” Patrick wrote. “And too often, those needs are only dealt with when they become a crisis.”

Patrick initially sought to work a nearly $2 billion deal with lawmakers 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.

Instead, lawmakers opted to pursue a plan to raise about half of that amount through higher fuel taxes, an additional cigarette tax and a new tax on computer software services.

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

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