State House leaders said Monday that the Legislature will take up Governor Deval Patrick’s plan for increased transportation spending next week, continuing the ongoing battle on Beacon Hill over how much to raise taxes to support increased infrastructure investments.
Last week, Patrick rejected the Legislature’s transportation financing measure, which included an increase in the gas tax, along with other higher taxes. He countered with his own proposal to further increase the gas tax in 2017 if certain Massachusetts Turnpike tolls expire as scheduled, saying it is necessary to have a replacement source of revenue if the tolls are removed.
Speaking to reporters, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said the House of Representatives would take up Patrick’s amendment July 17 with a Senate vote July 18.
Last week, both leaders condemned Patrick’s revised plan and said they would encourage their respective chambers to reject it. Monday, DeLeo reiterated that sentiment.
“Speaking, I would think, on behalf of my membership now,” DeLeo said, “I don’t see a real boatload of support for either [an additional] gas tax or a toll hike.”
“The amendment in its present form is unacceptable, so I don’t know what we could do besides straight rejection” he added.
If the House and Senate reject Patrick’s proposal and return the bill to the governor, he would be presented with the option of signing it, vetoing, or allowing it to become law without his signature. If the governor vetoes the bill, both chambers would require a two-third majority to override his veto.
DeLeo declined to discuss Monday whether he has the votes to override a veto.
A state budget approved last week by the Legislature relies in part on revenue in the transportation bill. The fate of the transportation legislation will directly affect what happens to the state budget, which Patrick is due to act on by the end of the week.
DeLeo said the votes on Patrick’s plan were scheduled next week so the Legislature could see what action the governor takes on the budget.
Patrick canceled his weekly meeting with the two legislative leaders that was set for Monday. Asked why, spokeswoman Jesse Mermell said in an e-mail that the governor was working from his home in Western Massachusetts. She did not provide any additional details. Patrick owns a home in the town of Richmond.
Murray addressed Patrick’s absence as she spoke to reporters.
“If the governor wants to work from home — is there high-speed Internet out there yet? I don’t know,” Murray said to laughter.
“I’m here,” she added.