Mass. Transportation Plan Approved by Senate

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The state Senate just approved a transportation finance plan closer to what the state's Governor had been requesting

    (NECN: John Monahan, Boston) - The transportation battle on Beacon Hill may be nearing a compromise.

    State Senators gathered for a rare Saturday session to discuss 110 amendments to their version of a transportation financing bill.

    Legislators were able to approve a plan closer to what Governor Deval Patrick had been asking for, but there is still plenty of work to do.

    The plan the Senate just approved still has to go to committee before a compromise bill is hammered out later. But legislators are hopeful that Patrick would sign that compromise into law.

    Some aspects of that compromise hope to raise money without any taxes, including offering naming rights for MBTA subway and commuter rail stations.

    But other options, including adding tolls on the western part of the Massachusetts Turnpike, have rubbed some people the wrong way.

    "You've heard, in the debate here, the frustration of a lot of things that have been passed over the years and ask for over the years that we have yet to receive," said Senator Therese Murray.

    A group of protesters made their frustration perfectly clear when they disrupted the Senate session and ultimately had to be ejected from the gallery.

    Senator Thomas McGee tried to ease some of the tension, adding that part of the toll proposal allows the money raised to stay within the area being tolled.

    "So it's an ability to make some investment in that region," McGee said.

    Governor Patrick released a statement with his thoughts on the plan, noting that it was a step in the right direction, but his hopes for the bill still requires more money.

    "The Senate bill contains many strong elements, and others that require more understanding," Patrick said in his statement. "Experts agree that we need approximately $1 billion more a year -- in addition to further operating efficiencies -- to give our citizens a safe, functional, modern transportation system to keep pace with a growing economy."

    With Patrick's demand for a hefty price tag, legislators have their work cut out for them as the most recent plan in this heated debate makes its way to committee.

    For more on these recent updates, watch John Monahan's report above.