Massachusetts Gov. Patrick unveils major infrastructure plans
By George Sousouris
BOSTON, Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick (D) has unveiled a multi-billion dollar transportation infrastructure proposal, but failed to elaborate on some of the major financing options to pay for such investments, saying instead that more details would be forthcoming in his State of the State address Wednesday night.
The proposal outlined a broad 10 year vision including $13 billion in expenditures on upgraded rail service in Western Massachusetts and more bike and pedestrian paths, plus increased spending on roads, bridges, and public transit.
However, even some in his own party were a bit dismayed at a lack of details regarding revenue increases that will inevitably accompany such investments. State transportation officials have suggested an increase in the gas tax as a way to partially pay for these proposals, but that may be met with resistance by the legislature unless each region gets to keep a large percentage of the increase, as Rep. William Pignatelli (D) indicated, saying, "I would have less of an objection to increasing the gasoline tax, if [the Berkshires] could keep what we generate. If we kept a large portion of the money, we could solve every road and bridge problem and fully fund the BRTA [Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority]."
Other suggestions made in a report given to Gov. Patrick on Monday suggest income and sales tax increases, as well as a new state payroll tax.