NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 5, 2013

Governor calls tax plan 'pretend fix'

(Continued)

The House and Senate leadership plan provides the MBTA with enough new funding in fiscal 2014 to avoid a fare increase or service cuts, but asks the agency to come up with $250 million or more in new revenue in subsequent years. “Hey, step up to the plate and start being more efficient,” Murray said Thursday.

Patrick, however, told the News Service that message is different from what they were saying privately.

“The House chair of transportation and the Ways and Means chair told us that they were taking the $250 million in fee, fare and toll increases from my plan and increasing that. If they’re saying something different now, let’s take a little time to see what is actually in the plan,” Patrick said.

House Transportation Chair Rep. William Straus denied giving the administration that impression, writing in an email: “I never said, indicated, implied or communicated in any way they ‘we’ were increasing fees, fares or tolls in the package that would be presented to the full House. I have tried to make it clear in all my statements that a consequence of doing nothing prior to June 30, with regard to transportation financing would result in the administration having to use its existing options for increases and or service cuts in FY 2014. Our plan to be debated Monday, avoids that unfortunate consequence.”

Democratic leaders also believe the new revenue is enough to support a $100 million increase in Chapter 90 funding, with the House advancing a bill Wednesday that would authorize $300 million for the local road repair program. Patrick said he has serious doubts about whether that will be possible with the favored revenue package.

“Even the Chapter 90, it’s questionable whether there’s enough revenue for that Chapter 90 which is why it blows my mind that the Massachusetts Municipal Association is so enthusiastic about it,” Patrick told the News Service.

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