Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has vetoed the state Legislature’s transportation finance bill and sent the House and Senate back to the drawing board.
“This good bill is not good enough,” Patrick said in a statement.
Patrick had suggested changes to the bill to increase the gas tax to compensate for revenue lost if some tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike are eliminated in 2017. Current law calls for the tolls to be eliminated, which would reduce revenue by as much as $170 million. Some legislators say the tolls should be kept; others say they should be dropped as a matter of fairness.
“I believe [the toll issue] is an issue to be dealt with now, not put off to another day,” Patrick said.
“The Legislature has delivered the administration a carefully balanced package that provides funding for transportation needs without overburdening Massachusetts’ families and businesses,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo wrote in his own statement, issued after the governor’s announcement.
DeLeo said the House would vote to override the governor’s veto this week.
Patrick praised parts of the bill. He said it “enables us to reinvest in our transportation network, after decades of willful neglect. It provides some short-term resources to deal with our most pressing needs. It responds to a key priority of my administration and will stimulate many jobs. I thank the Legislature for that.”
The bill does raise taxes on gas, cigarettes and computer software services, the Boston Globe reported, to fund the state’s transportation system and prevent immediate fare increases and service cuts on transit.