BOSTON – After hearing Gov. Deval Patrick threaten to veto what he called a “pretend fix” to the state’s transportation system deficiencies, House Speaker Robert DeLeo defended the Democratic legislative leadership’s proposal to raise $500 million in new taxes as a plan that, unlike the governor’s, spares the middle class from a major tax hike.
“Just the contrary, what this plan does actually is to make sure we’re taking care of or addressing the issue of transportation while at the same time not putting a bigger burden on families or business that the governor’s plan would put on,” DeLeo told reporters outside his office on Wednesday.
Patrick, at a press conference, panned the Democratic leadership’s transportation plan as inadequate and “not fair” to residents outside Greater Boston who will be asked to pay more in gas and cigarette taxes for what he predicted would be another short-term solution to budget and debt problems at the MBTA and Department of Transportation.
“Let’s be clear. The leadership proposal taxes the middle class,” Patrick said, later adding, “It’s a fiction to claim somehow this bill avoids new taxes.”
Patrick called the plan from DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray “too small” to make the improvements required around the state, including the I-91 viaduct through Springfield from which concrete came loose on Wednesday, causing major traffic delays.
“The I-91 viaduct is falling apart. The fact that it’s falling apart is not a surprise. It’s falling apart because we haven’t taken care of it,” Patrick said, blaming a Beacon Hill culture and “administration after administration” that has been unwilling to tackle the long-term funding problem.
He also reiterated that the proposal from House and Senate leaders provides no funding for education, for capital expansion projects like the Green Line extension that are important to economic development, or for improvements to the existing system like replacing deteriorating Orange and Red Line cars or regional transit buses.