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CT Dems think they have enough votes to establish tolls – maybe

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Democratic leaders in both houses of the General Assembly believe they could have enough votes to pass legislation that would establish trucks-only highway tolls, though they are not yet ready to predict victory.

connecticut tolls trucks onlyWhether the highly contentious issue – state Republicans have adamantly refused to support tolling of any kind – will be resolved during a still-to-be-scheduled special session  or will be a part of the regular legislative session that begins next month, remains unclear.

Following a meeting that lasted several hours on Tuesday, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said he was “comfortable” the plan would pass in that chamber, but noted that the bill’s language still needs to be drafted and that revenue and expense numbers need to be finalized.

Revenue estimates for the trucks-only tolling plan range from $170 million to $190 million at a dozen bridges around the state. One of those involves a 1.4-mile stretch of New York’s Interstate 684 that passes through Greenwich. Several New York state lawmakers, as well as residents, have been vocal in their opposition to that toll location.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro-Tem Martin Looney, following his own hours-long meeting on Tuesday, said that several of his members are concerned about oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation and ensuring that tolls remain for only trucks. Previous versions of Gov. Ned Lamont’s CT2030 transportation plan had called for tolls for all vehicles.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides both vowed to continue fighting against the tolls initiative, with Fasano questioning whether Democrats really have the votes needed to pass such legislation. Both noted that the idea of approving tolls in an election year could cause some Democrats to shy away from approving any such bill.

Democrats have a 22-14 majority in the Senate and a 91-60 majority in the House.

“These are decisions that prior elected officials put off for decades, and Connecticut can no longer afford to kick the can down the potholed road,” Lamont said in a statement issued after the meetings. “Over the coming days, I look forward to continuing these discussions so we can adopt a plan to finally fix our transportation system and get our state’s economy moving again, in short order.”

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