Saturday, 2:15 PM
Patrick threatens to veto sales tax increase
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick threatened today to veto the House's proposal to raise the sales tax, saying that "without real reforms" he "will not support new transportation revenue."
Governor Deval Patrick
Patrick sent a letter to all 200 members of state Legislature that said he "cannot support a sales tax increase and will veto it" if lawmakers do not first enact his transportation reform bill.
"Before we consider any broad-based tax increase, we must first regain the public's confidence in government's ability to steward public funds wisely," Patrick wrote in the three-page letter dated today.
Patrick chided the Legislature for not taking up his revenue proposals – which were more targeted -- and for not taking enough action on pension, ethics, and transportation reforms.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo is pushing to increase the state’s 5 percent sales tax to 6.25 percent, raising $900 million in new revenue. He has been working today to try and secure a two-thirds majority, the amount necessary to override the governor’s veto.
DeLeo wants to dedicate about $275 million of the new revenues to transportation - a maneuver designed to avoid increasing the state's gas tax, Patrick has proposed. Patrick has proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax, which would raise nearly double the amount for transportation that DeLeo's plan would.
Patrick, who met at the State House yesterday with DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray, did not definitively say in his letter whether he would veto a sales tax increase even if the Legislature approved the reforms he’s calling for.
The governor e-mailed the letter to lawmakers at 12:31 p.m., just before they went to the House floor to debate the $27.4 billion budget. Patrick's reform proposals include merging several transportation bureaucracies, which would eliminate the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and bring Interstate 90 and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority under control of the state. He also wants to reduce the health and pension benefits of transportation workers.