EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 25, 2013

Legislators override Patrick veto, raise taxes

Taxes on gasoline and cigarettes are set to increase after state lawmakers voted to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a transportation financing bill.

The bill contains a 3 cent-per-gallon hike in the gas tax and would index future increases in the tax to inflation. It also raises the cigarette tax $1 per pack and imposes the state sales tax on computer software and services.

Patrick vetoed the bill after lawmakers rejected his demand to add a provision allowing for an additional gas tax hike if tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike come down as scheduled in 2017.

The House voted 123-33 to override Patrick’s veto. The Senate voted 35-5 to override.

The bill, which calls for $500 million in new taxes, seeks to pump billions of dollars into the state’s transportation network over the next decade, allowing the state to modernize its aging infrastructure and jumpstart stalled projects including the expansion of commuter rail to the South Coast.

Starting in 2015, the gas tax will be tied to the national Consumer Price Index, a prominent measure of inflation, and rise automatically. By 2017, the transportation law will raise an estimated $800 million per year.

“I didn’t vote for the underlying transportation finance bill when we voted on it, but I’m in favor of the Legislature overriding the governor’s veto because this Legislature worked very hard and in good faith to present a comprehensive transportation bill that matched the governor’s request of $800 million,” said state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport.

O’Connor Ives said she opposed the bill because it included a study on adding tolls to Interstates 95 and 93 near the New Hampshire border.

Democrats in the state House said their proposal was more modest and would not overburden the taxpayers or the economic recovery.

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