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February 15, 2013

Governor cites MBTA needs in pushing tax reform

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick is challenging Beacon Hill lawmakers to muster the “political courage” to support his proposed tax reforms to generate new revenue for transportation and education investments, casting the decision as one of generational responsibility — especially when it comes to MBTA rail service.

“We must each of us sacrifice a little today so that we may all share in a better and stronger tomorrow,” Patrick told a crowd gathered Wednesday at the State House for Transportation Day, sounding a theme he has emphasized often over his six years as governor and one echoed thius week by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address.

The event, designed to introduce the various state transportation agencies and their programs to lawmakers, came as skeptical legislators are being asked by the governor to approve a menu of tax reform proposals designed to generate $1.9 billion in new revenue and slightly shift the state’s tax burden off lower-to-middle income families.

He urged people to talk to their neighbors and representatives in the Legislature about the importance of investing in transportation and education, suggesting “reform alone” will not deliver for Massachusetts the type of transportation he says the state needs to remain economically competitive.

“Help them see the generational urgency of this moment and help them find the political courage to choose what’s right for our long-term good instead of just what’s easy for short-term politics,” Patrick said.

With the MBTA staring at a $140 million budget gap without another infusion of funding, the governor and his transportation team have called for up to $1 billion a year in new funding to be poured into the system for upkeep and maintenance as well as expansion projects like the Green Line extension to Medford, South Coast rail, and the expansion of South Station in Boston.

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