Patrick rejects Legislature’s transportation plan

Governor Deval Patrick today rejected the Legislature’s transportation finance bill because he said it did not include enough revenue to cover necessary upgrades to the state’s ailing transportation system.

“In its current form, I’m not going to accept this bill,” he said.

Instead, Patrick urged the Legislature to raise the gas tax at least three more cents beginning in 2017 when the tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike are set to come down leaving what the governor says will be a $135 million revenue hole.

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But, even as Patrick was briefing reporters on his amendment to the Legislature’s transportation finance bill, state Senate President Therese Murray and House Robert A. DeLeo rejected his proposal.

In a statement, the two legislative leaders called Patrick’s amendment “too high a burden on the taxpayers of our state.”

“This threatens working families and businesses still fighting to overcome the financial downturn. Therefore, we will ask our respective chambers to reject the administration’s proposal,” they said in a joint statement.

Patrick’s amendment is the latest step in a back-and-forth between the governor and the legislature on how to finance longterm transportation infrastructure spending directly tied to the proposed state budget.

Patrick said his amendment will ensure that the millions lost by the expiration of the tolls is replaced.

The version of the proposal approved by the Legislature sets a three-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax that goes into effect when the bill becomes law. Beginning in 2015, the gas tax then increases with inflation.

The bill now returns to the Legislature for a vote, likely after the July 4th holiday.