State Democrats are moving forward with plans to bring tolls back to Connecticut highways, and their Republican counterparts are already digging in against them.
Making good on a promise he made to the Business Journal earlier this month, state Rep. Tony Guerrera, longtime Democratic co-chair of the state Transportation Committee, issued a statement on Monday declaring that “Electronic tolls are the answer” to the plight of Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund, which in his words “is drying up fast. We are looking at a scenario where we will run out of money for our transportation infrastructure.”
According to the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy, if no action is taken, the fund will be in deficit by 2019, and could reach $388.1 million by 2021-22. Earlier this month Malloy announced that he was indefinitely postponing $4.3 billion worth of transportation projects until new revenue is appropriated for the Special Transportation Fund.
Guerrera said that legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to prepare a statewide plan to implement electronic tolling on Connecticut’s highways “will be filed and raised by the Transportation Committee as soon as the 2018 legislative session commences” on Feb. 7.
Among Guerrera’s Democratic supporters are state Rep. Chris Perone of Norwalk, who joined the Transportation Committee co-chair at a Monday morning news conference in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
While no Republicans were at the press conference, several released statements assailing the plan.
“It is irresponsible to approve a law, and subject people to more fees, without understanding the magnitude of the impact on Connecticut residents. They’ve been taxed enough,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano. “I understand some people are desperate to look at tolls as a cure-all for a state that has been damaged by years of failure under Governor Malloy and a Democrat controlled legislature. But it’s reckless to rush to approve tolls before even understanding the economics of how they would work.
“Instead of blindly pushing for a drastic new money grab, I wish lawmakers were more focused on getting answers and considering solutions that would be less painful for Connecticut residents,” Fasano added.
“Once again, legislative Democrats are showing us they are out of touch with the hard-working people of Connecticut,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican candidate for governor, in a statement. “After misappropriating transportation funds for years to cover-up self-inflicted budget deficits, Democrats now want to draw blood from a stone and impose yet another tax on the people of our state.”