Gov. Dannel Malloy is proposing to implement tolls, along with a gas tax increase, in the state within the next five years.
Malloy held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss options to balance the Special Transportation Fund (STF), which includes implementing tolls by 2023 and a $0.07 gas tax increase in the next 4 to 5 years, a move he said is a revitalization effort for the state's transportation fund.
"Our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our rail systems have fallen into a state of disrepair," Malloy said on Wednesday.
Along with an increase in the gas tax and a potential to bring back tolls, Malloy said an acceleration of the transfer of car sales tax and an establishment of a $3 per tire fee on tire purchases.
The four-tier proposal would bolster the funding for canceled projects, including improving roads and bridges that he said have fallen into a state of disrepair.
Malloy said these cost additions were suspended by $4.3 billion earlier this month like critical improvements to the I-91/Route 15 interchange on the Charter Oak Bridge, the replacement of the Waterbury Mixmaster, and the widening of I-95 from Bridgeport to Stamford.
Should tolls and a higher gas tax be implemented in our state to fix roads and bridges? Vote in our poll here.
Last month, Malloy announced that projects on Waterbury Mixmaster would be suspended. Read that story here.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation would benefit from the added investments for all of the services the department provides.
In a conference with local leaders, Malloy said,
“Investment in transportation is investment in Connecticut’s economic future. But for decades, our state has chronically underfunded our roads, bridges, tunnels, and rails, and as a result our infrastructure consistently ranks among the worst in the nation. Without new revenues this year, we face a transportation cliff."
The conference comes on the heels of an exchange of words between the Governor and the Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, who called Malloy’s past plans, “partisan politics.”
“The governor does not like our plan because it was created by Republicans,” said Fasano.
“It is beyond irresponsible to criticize other people's ideas that immediately fund critical transportation infrastructure projects when the governor and Democrat lawmakers have zero answers themselves besides calling for more taxes.”
Malloy's Communications Director, Kelly Donnelly fired back calling Fasano’s plans to fund the transportation budget, “misleading and outdated.”
“Fasano's own Republican transportation proposal neglects the basic rules of math, fundamentally misunderstands how infrastructure is funded, and would make our problems drastically worse.”
The construction industry supports this, saying too many jobs are going to other states.
"Connecticut is going to need to figure out how to get a long-term stable funding stream that the state can rely on in the future," said Don Shubert, of the Connecticut Construction Association.
State numbers show roughly 40 percent of those who use CT roads are from out of state, and there is a huge cost.
Last year more than $6 billion was made in repairs and the average CT driver spends 40 hours a year sitting in traffic.
Republican Senator Tony Hwang said he sees this as another tax and blames Democrats.
"We have collected enough money already. We have continued to raid the transportation fund, we've had two of the highest tax increases and we have not been able to make ends meet,” Hwang said.
Raiding the transportation fund is a huge concern. This November, voters will be asked to support a lock box, which would only allow money raised for transportation be spent on transportation.
Connecticut gubernatorial candidate, Mark Boughton, called the implementations proposed by Malloy, "a slap in the face to every resident of the state of Connecticut."
GOP Gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton released the following statement regarding Gov. Malloy's proposal for new taxes and tolls:
"We are already among the highest-taxed states in the nation and losing population at an alarming rate. The key to pulling our state out of the fiscal abyss is to create a friendlier tax and regulatory environment for our employers and residents. Gov. Malloy and his Democrat accomplices in the legislature are penalizing the people of our state for the fiscal disaster they have created. As Governor, I would swiftly veto tolls.”
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