Lawmakers dismiss Patrick warnings, vote to override

The Legislature on Wednesday dismissed Gov. Deval Patrick’s warnings about a future shortage of transportation funds

The Legislature on Wednesday dismissed Gov. Deval Patrick’s warnings about a future shortage of transportation funds, voting overwhelmingly to override the governor’s veto of a $500 million revenue package made up of tax increases on custom software modifications, cigarettes, and gasoline.

Patrick said the bill was “good” but “not good enough” when he vetoed the bill last week. Lawmakers overwhelmingly disagreed, with the House voting 123-33 in favor of overriding Patrick’s veto, and the Senate following suit by a margin of 35-5.

Rep. William Straus, a Democrat from Mattapoisett who cochairs the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, acknowledged the bill wasn’t perfect but said few bills are that make it through the Legislature. “The governor has said it’s a good bill,” Straus said during brief remarks prior to the vote. “Frankly, that’s probably true with every piece of legislation that comes through this institution, historically.”

Patrick had previously vetoed the bill after the House and Senate both rejected an amendment that would have provisionally raised the gas tax by an additional 3 cents a gallon to cover any shortfall that might arise if tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike between Route 128 and the New York border come down in 2017.

While Patrick’s veto was overridden, he did find some unlikely allies as Republicans in both the House and Senate voted to sustain his veto. But they voted to back him not because they agreed with his provisional gas tax but because they saw his veto as the best way to derail the bill and its tax increases entirely.

The bill calls for a 3 cent increase in the gas tax, a $1 increase in the tax on cigarette packs, and a new tax on computer software services.

Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Republican from Billerica, opposed the tax on computer software services and said it would have a devastating effect on the tech industry in Massachusetts.

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“We have a chance today to stop the death of the tech industry in Massachusetts,” Lombardo said.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Republican from Gloucester, said the bill would continue to lead the Commonwealth into a “tempest of taxation,” while Sen. Daniel Winslow, a Republican from Norfolk, said the vote was the Senate’s last chance to “kill this gas tax.”