Posted on May 3, 2018 by rjoslyn
Cautions that Toll Legislation Could Still Reappear Later this Session
HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) expressed his optimism to Connecticut commuters and taxpayers after the Speaker of the House announced this week he is unlikely to bring a proposal related to the installation of electronic tolls up for a vote in the House of Representatives this year.
Crediting “significant pressure from toll opponents,” the Rep. Smith noted that majority leadership does not believe there are sufficient votes to pass the tolls legislation. However, he warned that until legislation related to tolls actually receives an up-or-down vote in the House, tolls could still be a part of the final budget package for the state.
“A considerable number of Connecticut commuters and taxpayers looked at the facts about how inefficiently transportation is funded in this state and decided the burdensome cost of paying tolls on their highways would not solve our fiscal problems, and they let legislators across the state know how they felt about it,” said Rep. Smith. “This is democracy in action and vocal opposition to more taxation is the key to how we turn this state around. That being said, the tolls bill is not defeated since it never received a vote in either the House or Senate. They can still go back to it later if they want. We can’t claim victory just yet. I encourage people who are worried about tolls to remain vigilant and continue to keep the pressure on.”
As an alternative to funding Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund without the need for tolls, Rep. Smith joined his caucus in offering another plan for a long-term solution to advance transportation in Connecticut as a component of their budget adjustments proposal. “Prioritize Progress” creates a predictable and sustainable funding stream to ensure that transportation will be prioritized for the next three decades, largely by reserving existing General Obligation Bonds exclusively for transportation projects and establishing a board to assess proposed projects and identify urgencies.
“Tolls are a non-starter for me – we need to stop raiding the STF, reduce administrative costs, and pursue more efficient ways to spend the revenue the STF already takes in,” said Rep. Smith. “Instead of trying to think of more ways to make it more expensive to live in Connecticut, we can prioritize transportation funding in the budget. By doing this, we can create a safe and reliable transportation network that can help drive our economy.”
The 2018 legislative session concludes on May 9.