Connecticut's governor halted major transportation projects on Wednesday because he said the state's transportation fund is running out of money.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said during an afternoon news conference in Hartford that if something is not done soon, the fund will be in a $67 million deficit in the 2019 fiscal year and $338 million by 2022.
Malloy said drivers and public transportation users alike will be impacted by such a deficit in some way.
“If Connecticut does not take the necessary action to allow us to restart these vital projects, not only will it put the state’s infrastructure into a further state of disrepair, it will hurt our economy,” Malloy said. “If we want to compete in the 21st century economy, we need a transportation system that works for people and businesses, and we need to invest in transit-oriented development to build the communities where people and businesses want to be."
He said $4.3 billion in projects are on hold, including the Interstate 91/Route 15 interchange, the Waterbury Mix Master revamp, improvements to the Charter Oak Bridge, maintenance to roads and bridges and snow removal.
For the complete list, look here.
He also said rest stops would close and there would be fare hikes across the board.
Malloy said the fund has been depleted because the gas tax is not generating the revenue expected while debt payments have increased.
"This is preventable, but it requires immediate action," Malloy said. "The legislature must act this year to avoid potentially devastating setbacks to our transportation system.”
Malloy was joined by Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.
“This isn’t a problem that can be punted until future years," Redeker said. "Connecticut needs immediate action."
The projects won't start up again until new revenue comes into the "Special Transportation Fund,” and this would affect construction jobs in the state.
“There is plenty of work surrounding us, what we see right now, there are a lot of CT workers up in Springfield, they're all around us working. But to get them to get back we can't just snap our fingers, they want to see there is going to be long-term employment here,” said Don Shubert, president of CT Construction Industries Association.
Malloy said he will release recommendations for funding the transportation fund in advance of the 2018 legislative session.
Regarding any help from the federal government, the Governor's office doesn't think so, saying President Donald Trump has been promising infrastructure investments since the campaign trail, but they haven't seen a plan.
In a statement, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano said "Governor Malloy continues to act as if the state's transportation funding problems came out of nowhere. But this is not a surprise. Over the last four years alone Gov. Malloy and legislative Democrats took $164 million from the state’s special transportation fund to balance their budgets. Gov. Malloy then authorized a transportation spending plan he knew couldn’t be supported by the fund. His plan spent more than the STF had with no way to pay for it, purposefully plunging the special transportation fund further into deficit. Now, Gov. Malloy and Democrats are trying to use the problem they created to force the legislature to approve new taxes and more burdens on commuters. That has been their game plan all along. That’s why Republicans developed the Prioritize Progress transportation funding plan years ago, but Gov. Malloy and Democrat lawmakers ignored our proposal. Prioritize Progress would have stabilized the STF and relieved the burden on STF bonding obligations, but that would require eliminating Gov. Malloy’s ability to put political giveaways on the state’s credit card. Gov. Malloy’s goal was never to find a solution, especially not one offered by Republicans. His goal was to damage our state to bolster his argument for more taxes. He has implemented irresponsible fiscal policies throughout state government for years. That’s why social services are in danger, why our economy and job growth is struggling, and why our transportation fund is depleted today. Gov. Malloy has failed our state again and again, ignored legitimate solutions, and created a situation that is hurting quality of life for people across our state. And Democrats have done nothing but sit back, ignore our warnings, and allowed this to happen for years.”
Channel 3 will have more on this story starting at 5 p.m.
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