EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 24, 2013

UPDATE: Mass. Legislature enacts tax-raising bill

BOSTON - In the face of claims that higher taxes will hurt a slowly recovering economy, the House and Senate voted today to override Gov. Deval Patrick's veto of legislation raising taxes by $500 million to invest in transportation and other areas of the state budget.

The House voted 123-33 and the Senate 35-5 to override the governor’s veto with two-thirds majorities in both branches. The tax increases are scheduled to take effect in seven days.

“We need to do something on transportation and we have to do it right,” said Sen. Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington), who commended Senate President Therese Murray and others for “having the courage to say if we need to fix the roads we’re going to pay for it.”

The bill raises the gas tax by 3 cents a gallon, tacks one dollar onto the per-pack cigarette tax and applies the sales tax to certain software and computer system design services. Patrick vetoed the bill because he was looking for a more robust tax package. The bill’s passage plugs an immediate hole in the MBTA’s budget.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) said the massive Assembly Square development in her community would not have happened without public transportation investments. “The same will happen with the Green Line extension,” Jehlen said. “And the Green Line extension will be built, because we have an obligation to it and because it is the first claimant on any new revenue that’s made.”

Jehlen continued: “As Republicans should understand, you don’t get growth without investments and you can’t make investments without a way to pay them back. So I hope this veto is not sustained. I don’t think it’s enough money but I think it’s such an important first step and the Senate President has said before to us, we will revisit this. We will continue to see if it’s the right amount and whether there are other revenue sources.”

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