While Governor Patrick’s $1.9 billion transportation, education, and tax-reform plan was sure to be a hard sell in the Legislature, lawmakers should take the far-reaching package as a basis for a productive negotiation. Instead, House and Senate leaders gave Patrick’s strategy the stiff arm Tuesday, unveiling a counterproposal that focuses solely on transportation — but, over the long term, doesn’t accomplish enough even in that one area.
Announced by Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and the heads of the Legislature’s budget and transportation committees, the plan was a signal to Patrick that lawmakers aren’t interested in the tectonic changes he’s proposed in the state tax system. Lawmakers would instead raise $500 million a year by hiking the cigarette tax, changing some business tax rules, and adding 3 cents to the gas tax. The multi-year plan also relies on a higher level of toll and MBTA fare increases than the governor’s does.