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July 24, 2013

New taxes could be in place by end of day

It’s shaping up as a potentially historic day on Beacon Hill.

With gas prices surging, the Legislature by the end of Wednesday could add to the price escalation.

Lawmakers appear set to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a bill raising taxes by $500 million.

The tax package raises the 23.5 cents per gallon gas tax by 3 cents and guarantees regular increases in the future by tying the levy to inflation.

Playing off the royal birth announcement theme, Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, and House Republicans planned to place a framed announcement outside the House chamber to mark the “Birth of Permanent Gas Tax Increases.”

AAA Southern New England reported Monday that gas prices jumped 9 cents a gallon over the past week and 23 cents a gallon over the past month, hitting an average of $3.71 per gallon.

The tax plan also slaps another dollar per pack on the cigarette tax and applies the 6.25 percent sales tax to software services, a controversial proposal that has generated backlash from business groups who say it will damage the state’s innovation economy.

The tax plan’s supporters say the bill’s passage will enable the state to address longstanding gaps in transportation system funding and a gaping hole in the current MBTA budget and help shore up a system that is critical to economic development.

Overrides must be adopted in both branches to take effect. The House is scheduled to vote first Wednesday and if the override prevails there, as expected, the Senate will be ready to take up the bill this afternoon.

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