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Patrick seeks middle ground on tax hikes

Governor Deval Patrick said Tuesday that he hopes to find a middle ground between the $1.9 billion tax increase for education and transportation that he has proposed and the $500 million tax hike focused solely on transportation that House lawmakers passed on Monday night.

“There’s a number between where they are and where I am — and I mean really, exactly, between where they are and where I started — where we can make some meaningful improvements in our transportation system and take some first meaningful steps on the education side,” Patrick told reporters outside his office.

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Patrick reiterated that he would veto the $500 million tax increase passed by the House, arguing that it helps balance the books for the MBTA and regional transit authorities, but does not do enough to expand transportation and education programs.

But his rhetoric was notably more conciliatory than it has been in recent days, when he more forcefully condemned the House bill for ignoring what he called vital transit and education investments. House lawmakers passed the legislation by a 97-55 vote Monday night, shy of the 107 votes needed for a veto-proof margin.

Patrick said he hoped Senate lawmakers, who will take up the bill next, will go further than the House and approve a bill that more closely resembles the version he proposed.

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