As lawmakers prepare to further their discussion about re-adding tolls along Connecticut highways, a group is pushing to stop that from happening.
The tolls bill has moved out of two committees, and now the Dept. of Transportation is looking at ways to implement the electronic gantries on the highway.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, protesters from the Yankee Institute added 72 toll "trolls" to the lawn of the capitol building in Hartford.
"We're here today with our toll trolls to say 'not one cent more.' Not one cent more of Connecticut's hard earned tax money to pay for tolls which is nothing more than a tax on people who are driving to work," said Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.
The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, an organization that has historically focused on Connecticut tax and budget issues, has recently taken up issue with a bill up for discussion by lawmakers.
"Tolling Connecticut's highways will raise the cost of living and commuting for Connecticut's residents and are nothing more than another $1 billion tax on the people of Connecticut," said Marc Fitch of the Yankee Institute.
"We don't need to be putting 72 toll gantries, more than any other state, in our state to tax the people of Connecticut," Liebau said.
She added that tolls could cost CT commuters over $1 billion per year.
Nonpartisan analysts say it could raise between $600 to $800 million per year.
Those in favor of the bill call it a means to tax out-of-state drivers who make use of the state's highways.
State Representative Tony Guerrera confronted protesters on Tuesday, saying they're trolling the wrong toll bill.
"What I want everyone to understand is the bill that came out of the Transportation Committee, which wasn't 72 tolls throughout the state of Connecticut. What my bill does is it asks DOT to come back with a plan which is I-95, I-91, I-84, The Merritt, and Wilbur Cross,” Guerrera said.
The DOT had come up with a plan in 2015 that mapped out 72 gantries, but that's not what's being done now.
"We're asking the DOT to come back to us next year with how many gantries there will be, what the rate is and then have a public hearing and then have a vote in the Committee, in the House and in the Senate,” Guerrera said.
If the vote should happen next year, and if tolls were to be implemented, it would also have to reduce the gas tax by five cents with the hope of encouraging out of state drivers to fill up in Connecticut.
"You think it's fair that other people travel through our state and don't pay a dime for their infrastructure. While we travel through the whole Northeast corridor and we have to pay,” Guerrera said.
The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Commission narrowly passed Gov. Dannel Malloy's plan for it earlier this month.
The Department of Transportation said it will study how tolls would be implemented.
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