Massachusetts: Senate backs more transportation funds

(AP) — The state Senate plans to direct more revenue toward transportation in its version of a tax bill approved by the House earlier in the week.

Like the House bill, the Senate version raises the gasoline tax by 3 cents to 24 cents a gallon. But the Senate version also calls for dedicating about $80 million from a little-known 2.5 cents per gallon surtax to transportation.

The surtax that went into effect in 2003 was ostensibly to support the cleanup of underground storage tanks, but much of it has been redirected to other non-transportation programs.

The Senate bill, scheduled for debate on Thursday, would also require utilities to enter into agreements with the Department of Transportation over the use of rights of way on state highways, generating an additional $40 million for transportation.

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