BOSTON (WWLP) — The Legislatureâ€™s transportation financing bill is much smaller than Governor Deval Patrickâ€™s grand 10-year vision â€“ It raises roughly a quarter of the money proposed by the governor.
â€śHe put out a ten year vision, weâ€™re just saying maybe ten years is too ambitious right away,â€ť said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth).
Murray joined House Speaker Robert DeLeo to unveil a transportation bill that raises $500 million dollars. The bill rejects the governorâ€™s proposed state income tax hike to 6.25 percent, leaves out one billion in education initiatives and cuts out road and rail projects, including a passenger rail connection between Springfield to Boston.
â€śObviously some folks talked about the affordability to the general public and I think this has adequately considered all that to make something I think which is probably more palatable,â€ť said House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).
The smaller revenue package proposes to increase the gas tax by 3-cents a gallon; it raises cigarette taxes by one dollar per pack, creates a software modification tax and eliminates what lawmakers call an â€śoutdatedâ€ť tax status that benefits utility companies.
â€śIâ€™m concerned that this is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of the future,â€ť said Transportation for Massachusetts director Kristina Egan. â€śPeople are clamoring for better bus serviceâ€¦ longer hours, rail service, bike paths, sidewalks and I canâ€™t see how this package gets us there.â€ť
While transportation advocates criticized the bill for not meeting the stateâ€™s transportation needs, legislative leaders said their plan makes up for shortfalls in transportation operating costs and builds revenue that can be saved for future road and rail projects. It also provides reliable funding for regional transportation authorities, like the PVTA.
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