Massachusetts Legislature overrides Governor Patrick's transportation bill veto
By Nick Katers
BOSTON, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Legislature voted Wednesday to override Governor Deval Patrick’s veto of a bill funding transportation improvements. Patrick vetoed the bill on July 19 to force legislators to address declining tolls expected on the Massachusetts Turnpike by the end of the decade. The House voted 123-33 to override the veto while the Senate followed suit by a 35-5 vote. Both bodies also voted unanimously to override a veto on local aid totaling $177 million.
The transportation bill approved by the legislature commits $500 million in new revenues to improvement projects and regional transportation systems over the next five years. Revenues for the improvements come from a three-cent increase in the gasoline tax and a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax effective July 31, 2013. The gas tax will increase to $0.26 per gallon while the cigarette tax jumps to $3.51 per pack.
Patrick conceded that the transportation bill was necessary in the short term even without addressing declining tolls. “While it is no secret that today’s transportation finance package shortchanges our transportation needs, it still represents a step forward,” said Patrick. Representative Daniel Winslow (R) was among 30 Republicans to support Patrick’s veto due to concerns about increased taxes. “Such taxation without representation would make even King George blush,” argued Winslow.