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Patrick stands firm on transportation veto threat

July 15, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, even with the odds seemingly stacked against him in the Legislature, indicated on Monday that he would stand firm on his promise to veto a transportation financing bill unless lawmakers agree to a change in it.

“What do you want me to do? Lay down?” Patrick said before a private meeting with legislative leaders that apparently did not produce any compromise in the dispute. “I’m going to stand on my principles, and one of my principles is that there be genuine regional equity.”

The bill, as it currently stands, would shortchange communities outside the Boston area by failing to provide enough revenue to fund badly needed transportation projects, Patrick contends.

He has asked lawmakers to support an amendment that would allow the gasoline tax to increase if tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike come down as scheduled in 2017. He says the current bill doesn’t account for the loss of revenue from the tolls.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Democrats, oppose the amendment and have urged members to reject it when it comes up for a vote this week.

Murray said after Monday’s meeting that leaders had a “very frank discussion” with Patrick over the bill, but “we still have philosophical differences.”

Murray accused reporters of “harassing” top state officials over the disagreement. An aide to the Senate president later explained she was referring to what she believed were inaccurate suggestions that the feud between the governor and legislative leaders had turned personal.

On Friday, Patrick vetoed $417 million in transportation and local aid funding from the state’s $34 billion budget, citing the lack of consensus on the transportation bill that includes new taxes required to balance the budget.

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