Mass. House passes $500 million transportation bill

A transportation plan approved by the House would avoid a fare hike on the MBTA this year. Credit: Michael Day/Flickr
A transportation plan approved by the House would avoid a fare hike on the MBTA this year. Credit: Michael Day/Flickr

Massachusetts lawmakers approved $500 million in new taxes as part of a transportation bill Monday night, despite a veto threat from Gov. Deval Patrick.

After 10 hours of debate, the House voted 97-55 to support the plan, which was announced last week by Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray.

The proposal would raise the gas tax by three cents a gallon, and allows for future increases based on inflation. The cigarette tax would increase by $1 per pack, and a series of new business taxes would be imposed.

“I am proud of today’s House vote for a carefully calibrated revenue package that allows us to fund our transportation system without placing excessive burden on taxpayers,” DeLeo said in a statement after the vote. “With this vote, we address the needs of business and commuters who rely upon our transportation system in a way that encourages economic growth while minimizing the pain on families and employers.”

Patrick, who supports a $1.9 billion transportation and education funding package, has vowed to veto the legislature’s plan, saying it doesn’t provide a long-term solution.

DeLeo and Murray say Massachusetts taxpayers can’t afford the governor’s proposals, which include raising income taxes by one percent while decreasing the state’s sales tax.

The final House vote fell short of the two-thirds margin needed to override a veto. The measure now moves to the Senate, with the Ways and Means Committee set to release a revised version Tuesday and debate expected to begin Thursday.

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