Lawmakers continue to debate the idea of tolls - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers continue to debate the idea of tolls

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The debate over tolls in Connecticut heats up.

Members of a new state business commission are being told 19 cities and towns support tolls.

The commission was created by the governor to improve economic stability, and on the same day, AAA has released a new poll on bringing tolls back.

A majority of states have tolls, 35 as of now.

Connecticut lawmakers have been somewhat divided because many see this as another tax. Supporters see it was a necessity.

Study after study shows Connecticut’s roads are among the worst in the nation.

The state's transportation fund is running out of money, and projects are on hold.

Tolls are once again being talked about as a way to fix roads and ease congestion

The members of a new state business commission heard from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities on challenges facing cities and towns.

"People generally understand our transportation system is broken and we need to fix it and even reinvent it a bit,” said Jim Smith, former CEO of Webster Bank.

A new AAA poll is mixed.

While less than half support them, tolls are much more popular than increasing the gas tax or a mileage fee.

However, 30 percent do not support any of these options.

If tolls were approved, a huge majority favor a lock box.

“A lock box that is intended to protect the funds that are collected in the name of transportation – however they are collected – to protect them from being diverted for use for anything else," said Amy Parmenter, AAA spokesperson.

The commission is looking at other things, like pensions and the rising costs of health care benefits.

Connecticut is one of only a handful of states where municipalities must collectively bargain.

"There is no more kicking the can down the road. We must face these issues or we will continue to see what we are seeing,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.

At least one state representative plans to propose a hike in the gas tax. As for a lock box, voters will get their say in November, as it will be on the ballot.

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