The Massachusetts House defeated Governor Deval Patrick's proposed change to a bill to pay for transportation improvements on Wednesday. Patrick has said he will veto the legislation if it doesn't include his amendment.

This is a fight about gas taxes, and it comes at a time when gas prices in Massachusetts are already rising.

Legislative leaders back a plan to increase the tax 3 cents per gallon. But Patrick wanted to raise it further if tolls on the western side of the Mass Turnpike go down, as is scheduled in a few years. That change was roundly defeated in the House on Wednesday.

House Speaker Robert Deleo said it wasn't necessary.

“We have the revenue to take care of this issue. We are taking care of this issue. And why are we putting a further burden on the middle class and the smaller businesses,” he said.  

Patrick has said he will veto the entire transportation bill if the amendment isn’t approved. The transportation debate has strained the relationship between the governor and Democratic leaders in the legislature.

During the past two weeks, the governor has met with lawmakers to try to sway them to his side, talked aggressively in the media and in a last ditch move, vetoed local aid funds that are dear to legislators.

Deleo called the maneuverings unusual.

"I still do have a good relationship. I like the governor. I respect the governor. But, I have to say this particular issue has been a different dynamic in the years I’ve worked with him."

The vote margin in the House would be enough to override a veto of the bill by Patrick. The Senate is preparing to reject Patrick’s amendment Thursday.