Lawmakers face several challenges this legislative session - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers face several challenges this legislative session

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(WFSB file) (WFSB file)

The legislative session started Wednesday, and Gov. Dannel Malloy has already laid out ways to raise revenues.

His plan proposes bringing back tolls and raising the gas tax, but Republicans may not go along with those ideas.

This could be a challenging legislative session, as Connecticut has a budget deficit of $240 million, and lawmakers will have to fix that.

There’s also the problem with the transportation fund, which is running out of money.

Malloy was in Windsor Locks Friday, making another pitch for fixing the state's transportation system.

He was at Montgomery Mills, a new housing complex built a quarter mile from the Hartford line.

Without more revenue, more than $4 billion in projects could be delayed or canceled.

Malloy made another push for tolls, and raising the gas tax by $0.07.

"Republicans in Connecticut, they don't have a plan. What they are talking about is not a plan, it's not a funding source," Malloy said.

Republicans want to rely on the gas tax, and are against tolls.

“As far as tolls go, it’s a nonstarter on our side of the aisle. I personally, very much oppose it. And there's no concrete plan,” said Republican State Senator John Kissel.

Gas tax revenue has fluctuated. In 2016, the state collected $518 million. Last year it went down to $498, and while it’s expected to rise slightly this year, numbers have not been keeping up with inflation.

Connecticut is on pace to collect this year what it did in 2005.

Getting the state on track is the focus of a special commission on fiscal stability and economic growth.

Cities and towns are dealing with skyrocketing health care benefits, and many want to renegotiate union contracts.

"That's their opinion. We think there are a lot of other ways to then trying to hurt people that we can make a difference,” said Lori Pellitier, president of the state’s AFL-CIO.

Municipalities are also burdened with education costs.

The head of the Connecticut Education Association is pushing for tax reform and reliable revenue.

"We really haven't updated our revenue system since 1991, and the world has changed - internet sales have siphoned off sales tax - lots of loopholes for the wealthiest taxpayers have siphoned off income tax revenue - much has to change,” said CEA Executive Director Don Williams.

This is just the first week of the session, and there will be more on several of these ideas, especially tolls, down the road.

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