Mass. House brushes aside amendment proposed by Gov. Patrick to transportation funding bill

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today passed an amendment sweeping aside all the changes Governor Patrick had proposed to a transportation finance bill, putting a kibosh on Patrick’s efforts to finagle more concessions from the legislative body.

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The amendment, passed in a 121-31 vote, struck out the terms of an amendment by Patrick — which asked for an increase in the gas tax to accommodate for the possibility that tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike would be eliminated in 2017 — and made some minor tweaks to the bill.

The vote also suggests that House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo will have the support of more than two-thirds of the legislative body, the required amount to override a veto from Patrick. Earlier today, Patrick said he knew his amendment did not have a lot of support in the House.

“The House has been pretty clear they are not going to put forth the amendment ... Well, I should say, the Speaker has been pretty clear,” Patrick said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of the new stops on the Fairmount commuter rail line.

Still, Patrick continued to insist changes to the bill are needed to ensure funding.

“It’s clear there’s a gap, there’s a hole,” Patrick said of the plan, which promises $800 million in new revenue by 2018 for transportation projects.

The House and Senate have agreed on a compromise bill that calls for an increase in taxes on gas, cigarettes, and computer software companies to close the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s budget shortfall and fund what state officials say are much-needed improvements to the state’s transportation system.

Patrick has agreed with the sum approved by the House and Senate — $800 million in new transportation revenue by 2018 — but is arguing for more gas taxes to accommodate for the possible elimination of Mass Pike tolls.

Lawmakers have said the funding structure they have outlined in the bill is based on reliable sources.

The governor’s comments came after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Dorchester’s Four Corners/Geneva commuter rail station, one of three stations that opened Wednesday as part of extended service on the Fairmount Line.

Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey, who also attended the ceremony, said projects like the expansion of the Fairmount line are exactly why the funding sources in the Legislature’s bill need to be shored up.

“Today is really the epitome of why we’ve been so insistent on ensuring that an $800 million bill is, in fact, $800 million,” Davey said.

The ribbon-cutting in Dorchester brought a who’s-who of politicians, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and mayoral candidates expressing their support for the opening of the station. The opening of the Fairmount Line is part of an effort to provide rapid-transit service to neighborhoods in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park that currently are served only by buses.