Posted on February 20, 2019 by admin
State Representative Mike France (R-42) was disappointed, but not surprised, that Governor Lamont’s first budget address to the General Assembly included a major policy shift and campaign pledge reversal when he included a policy to toll all vehicles on Connecticut roadways in his budget. The governor’s proposed budget also expanded sales tax to include various professional services, personal services, non-prescription drugs, newspapers and magazines. In addition, Governor Lamont proposed shifting 25% of the state’s annual teachers’ employee retirement fund contribution to local town budgets.
During his campaign, then-candidate Lamont repeatedly said he would toll tractor-trailers only, and that those revenues would sufficient to pay for needed transportation infrastructure improvements. During today’s address, Governor Lamont claimed tolling all vehicles was necessary to fund those same transportation improvements, but that 40% of toll revenue would come from out-of-state drivers. Unfortunately, that’s still a 120% tax increase on Connecticut residents to use the same roads.
“I fully expected Governor Lamont to flip-flop on this issue and, while I’m disappointed he chose to do so, I’m certainly not surprised,” Rep. France said. “Adding tolls to our roadways will cost taxpayers, especially low and middle-income workers, significantly reducing their discretionary income as they struggle to pay their bills and do more with less. In addition, the governor plans to greatly expand the sales tax and increase payroll taxes by another 1/2% to enact paid Family Medical Leave (FMLA). Adding tolls will only serve to multiply the negative effects on the economy and potentially cripple the middle class.”
Rep. France said he was concerned these new toll revenues would enable diversion of other Special Transportation Fund (STF) revenue in spite of the “lock box” Constitutional amendment. The myth perpetuated by Democrats is that money deposited in the “lock box” would be safe from the account “sweeps,” fiscal gimmicks, and non-transportation related withdrawals that have been historically made to balance bloated and unsustainable state budgets. However, nowhere in the Constitutional amendment are transportation revenue or expenses defined, enabling the legislature to still divert critical transportation funds from the STF.
“For decades, instead of tightening the belt on state spending, the legislature and the governor have taken the easy way out and diverted money from one account to the other to patch holes in the budget,” Rep. France said. “Unfortunately, today’s speech is more of the same. Governor Lamont had a chance to change the way state government operates, cut spending and help taxpayers. Instead, he decided to stay the course and attack the middle class with higher taxes, tolls and increased government spending.”