MA Governor Addresses Transportation Funding Impasse

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is in a stand-off with legislative leaders over the budget. In Springfield today, Patrick said he was frustrated lawmakers have put off a vote on his transportation proposal until after the budget deadline. Last week, Patrick rejected lawmakers’ 800-million dollar transportation spending plan because he said it included revenue from western turnpike tolls set to expire in 2017. The amendment he’s put forth proposes covering that funding gap by raising the gas tax beyond the 3 cent hike already included in the bill. Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert Deleo have said they’re encouraging lawmakers to veto that suggestion when they meet next week. But Patrick points out he’s legally required to act on the bill by Friday.

“Reality as we know it today is that there is not some 4 to 450 million dollars of new revenue for the budget because that’s in a transportation bill that’s not done. This is something that I foresaw, that the legislature foresaw, that we talked about. But I have to respect that the legislature has its own clock and I have a statutory obligation.”

Patrick won’t say what he’d do when that deadline arrives. But he has maintained he won’t sign the transportation bill as is. State representative William Smitty Pignatelli of Lenox says expects the house will successfully veto Patrick’s amendment next week. The state’s temporary 4-billion dollar budget runs out August 1st.