HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The governor met with a bipartisan group of legislative leaders to discuss transportation and tolls on Wednesday.

While Gov. Ned Lamont met with other lawmakers, nobody is calling it progress.

The meeting lasted two hours, with numerous slides and presentations, but still no agreement.

Leaders from all four caucuses discussed efforts to modernize the state's transportation system.

The first part of the meeting was open to the public, but Lamont said the rest of it took place behind closed doors.

Transportation was not involved in a 2-year $40 billion budget proposal that was approved by both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.

The discussion was tabled for a special legislative session.

Lamont has been receiving pushback for his transportation proposal, which includes adding tolls to state highways.

After Wednesday's meeting, a new offer may be on the table to make tolls more palatable.

Lamont said he is willing to give middle class families a reduction in their income taxes.

"What I am talking about is getting a transportation bill passed and we got to be able to pay for it and I have a lot of people in their building who don't like to make tough decisions, certainly don't like to pay their bills. They like to borrow and pass it off to the next generation," Lamont said.

He added that without a plan, Connecticut faces a $1 billion deficit in 10 years, and the federal government could penalize the state if it doesn't fix roads and bridges.

"What we are looking at coming in does not meet the need at a state of good repair that we need to maintain with the federal government," said Dept of Transportation Commissioner Joe Guilietti.

Lamont's presentation showed bridge-only tolling is not adequate, and neither is funding from the car sales tax, and more borrowing.

Those against tolls stood outside the meeting.

"I think there are other alternatives and its starts with spending cuts. Someone has to look at the budget we have now," said Catherine Embriano, of No Tolls CT.

Spending cuts would have to be pretty severe to maintain and improve the state's transportation system.

Knowing tolls are an uphill battle, Lamont is looking at reducing the state income tax for middle-class families earning under $125,000, EZ Pass discounts for CT users, and $1 bus fares.

Republicans said they're not sure they like any of these ideas and want more time.

"They just threw a lot of numbers quickly, very quickly, very fast and for us to catch on, and start asking 'where are you, will you support tolls,' can we digest the numbers just a little bit," Republican State Senator Len Fasano.

No future date was set, although the governor said he would like to meet with leaders again.

The plan is to have a special session to vote on tolls, but no date has been set for that either.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(1) comment

Jules Winnfield

Since CT politicians made this mess, they can pay for it. Give them $20 per hour, no pension, no free health care for life, and return to a per diem system since they don't work 52 weeks a year. Problem solved!

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