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CONSERVATIVE CAUCUS RESPONDS TO SENATE REPUBLICAN TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PLAN

Posted on December 17, 2019 by jpheasant


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HARTFORD – In a letter to Senator Len Fasano this week, the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) Conservative Caucus commented on the Senate Republican transportation funding plan, Fiscal Accountability & Sustainable Transportation Reform, (FASTR) CT, expressing appreciation for the Senate’s efforts, but stating its belief that no responsible transportation funding plan can be developed without incorporating the results of a financial audit conducted by the State Auditors of Public Accounts (APA) and a process audit conducted by a private consulting company that specializes in auditing large corporations using the standards of the Certified Project Management Professionals or similar.

“We appreciate the significant effort Senate Republicans obviously put into developing a transportation funding plan that not only seeks to provide sustainable funding of the Special Transportation Fund (STF) without tolls, but also proposes to pay down the state’s unfunded pension liability to generate revenue in support of fixing our infrastructure,” Mike France (R-42), chair of the Conservative Caucus wrote.

The Caucus agreed with the Senate’s proposal to reestablish the state Transportation Strategy Board and agreed that establishing a similar CT/NY Railroad Strategy Board would provide needed oversight of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure any investment of tax revenue in rail projects produces the anticipated return to the taxpayers. The Caucus also generally liked in concept, the idea of transitioning from using state Special Tax Obligation bonding to using federal borrowing programs at lower interest rates to support financing of major transportation projects in the state.

“It’s important that taxpayer money spent on state infrastructure projects be done efficiently and with discipline, and leveraging federal money at lower interest rates will help Connecticut do just that,” Rep. France said. “However, it’s equally important to make sure that any money spent, regardless of where it comes from, is handled properly, transparently and is fully accounted for.”

But to that end, the Caucus told Senator Fasano that it cannot support the Senate Republican’s plan, recommending instead that a robust financial audit be conducted before any comprehensive funding plan be developed. How and where state money is currently being spent on transportation causes particular concern.

“In addition to the routine audits already performed, we recommend that the APA also conduct a Federal Single Audit and a Performance Audit of the DOT, including particular focus on public transportation subsidies broken down by individual rail and bus line, with specific focus on the U-Pass system,” Rep. France wrote. “Without knowing how much each of our transportation systems actually costs, where our STF dollars have been going, and why, we do not believe it is prudent – or even possible – to develop a responsible and realistic plan to fund those systems into the next decade.”

The Conservative Caucus looks forward to continuing the dialogue and helping to provide leadership to resolve the transportation funding needs of Connecticut without imposing even more financial burdens – like tolls – on the taxpayers of this state.

The members of the Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus are: Rep. Mike France, Chair (R-42); Rep. Craig Fishbein, Vice Chair (R-90); Rep. Anne Dauphinais, Secretary (R-44); Rep. David T. Wilson, Treasurer (R-66); Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8); Rep. Brian Lanoue (R-45); Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-47); Rep. Rick Hayes (R 51); Rep. Kurt Vail (R-52); Rep. John Piscopo (R-76); Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80); Rep. John Fusco (R-81); and Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-86).