Massachusetts lawmakers release $500 million transportation plan

State officials are scrambling to fix the region's transportation system. PHOTO CREDIT: fhwa.dot.go
State officials are scrambling to fix the region’s transportation system. PHOTO CREDIT: fhwa.dot.go

Massachusetts legislative leaders today announced a transportation financing plan that calls for $500 million in new revenues, including increases in state gasoline and cigarette taxes.

The plan rejects a $1.9 billion revenue plan proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick that included a hike in the state income tax to pay not only for modernizing the state’s transportation system, but also for new education initiatives.

Under the plan outlined by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray and other key Democratic lawmakers, the gasoline tax would increase by 3 cents per gallon, costing a typical driver between $12 and $30 a year.

The proposal also calls for a $165 million increase in taxes on cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco.

Patrick promised to review the Legislature’s plan to determine if the financing is sufficient, telling the State House News Service he wanted to study the plan before reacting.

“We’ll I haven’t seen it, so I don’t have any reaction. I can tell you that, I asked the Senate President and the Speaker to give my own proposal a chance, and to step back a little bit and let people debate it. And I think I owe them that same courtesy in return,” Patrick said.

When asked if he was disappointed the plan calls for a fraction of the new revenue he proposed, Patrick responded, “Well it’s too soon. We did our work. We identified the need and we put forward a way to pay for it. I haven’t seen their plan.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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