Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the state's House Transportation Bill, which would provide $300 million for local road and bridge projects, “doesn’t provide enough funding to actually do that work,” adding he won’t support the bill as it currently stands.
In the speech Thursday before the Massachusetts state house, Patrick added the current bill is a tax on the middle class and doesn’t properly address the state’s infrastructure issues, problems he confronted in his transportation proposal earlier this year.
“I have been clear from the start that I am willing to compromise, and have made numerous overtures to leadership and individual members,” he said. “I have also been clear that the final revenue package must be sufficient to meet our needs, dedicated (in the case of transportation), and fair. This bill is neither sufficient nor fair. It is certainly not a job-growth plan.”
In January, Patrick laid out his plan for a $13 billion comprehensive transportation strategy funded primarily by sales tax dollars – spurred on by a tax increase of 1 percent. It includes numerous changes to the Boston transit system and other tourist projects, but also focuses on infrastructure improvements that will benefit the flow of goods. Patrick’s plan calls for a $125 million investment toward the long-term development the state’s airport system and more than $2 billion for a variety of rail improvements that will ease congestion on the state’s roads.
The House proposal, which will be up for a vote Monday, April 8, hopes to pay for transportation programs by increasing the gasoline tax by three cents per gallon, among other measures. The $500 million plan, announced Tuesday, is a much smaller attempt that, among other things, increases aid for municipal roads and increases the budget of regional transit authorities. The plan does not include a $400 million overhaul of a section of Interstate-91 that the governor is seeking and officials say is a critical, and necessary, improvement.
Thursday, Patrick expressed hope that his transportation priorities can still be met, but stood firm in his opposition to the alternative bill.
“I still believe we are in the midst of the process of finding a solution, not at the end of it,” he said. “But I want to be clear that I cannot support another effort to kick the can down the road, and I won’t.” - Jon Ross