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April 4, 2013

Governor skeptical of new tax plan

BOSTON – As the House quickly advanced a $500 million tax package on Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick said he was “skeptical” that the proposal put forth by Democratic House and Senate leaders would be sufficient to meet the needs he has identified in both transportation and education.

The governor also raised doubt about whether the amount of new revenue being pursued by legislative leaders will be sufficient to support a consensus increase in local road and bridge repair funding, and suggested House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray were trying to “position” him by jointly agreeing to the plan.

The tax proposal put forth by DeLeo and Murray raises only half of the new revenue the governor requested in his budget for transportation with new taxes on gas, tobacco and businesses, and funds none of the education initiatives Patrick sought with his $1.9 billion tax reform plan.

“I’ve been clear publicly and with the legislative leadership that I’m willing to compromise, but I do think there is such a thing as too small. We’ve got to be serious about investing in ways that give us growth, and investing in transportation and in education do that,” Patrick said, moments after addressing members of Stand for Children on Beacon Hill to press lawmakers to support new spending on education.

For the second straight day, Patrick offered a measured response to the Democratic leadership plan, but hinted he may have a more detailed and direct reaction on Thursday. “We’re trying to do some analysis. I am somewhat skeptical, but I want to make sure I’ve thought about what the implications are before I comment,” Patrick said.

Patrick and Education Secretary Matthew Malone told about two dozen members of Stand for Children to lobby lawmakers and make it clear that they weren’t giving up the fight for increased spending on education. Patrick urged them when talking to legislators to “make it personal” and share their own stories about how pre-school and lower college tuition costs would impact their lives.

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