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House Republicans, CT Businesses Decry Highway Use Tax on Trucks

Posted on March 8, 2023


HARTFORD—House Republicans on Wednesday joined a diverse group of business owners in talking about the negative impact the state’s highway use tax on trucks will have on Connecticut’s economy and encouraged others to testify Friday on legislation to eliminate it.  

“The far-reaching implications of the highway use tax on trucks should not be underestimated, and I have little doubt that Connecticut residents will soon feel the ripple effect in their own budgets if they haven’t already,” House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) said. “The reality of the situation is that this is more than a tax on trucks, it’s policy that will drive price increases on everyday goods and services at a time when residents can least afford it.”

Adopted in 2021, the highway use tax (HUT) went into effect at the start of this year. It’s levied according to a truck’s weight and miles traveled on any Connecticut roadway, not simply interstate highways. The controversial policy drew unanimous opposition from economy-focused Republicans, with some Democrats also pushing their “no” buttons.

“Allowing HUT to take effect in January accelerated already historic inflationary pressure by imposing arbitrary higher costs on Connecticut consumers and businesses. We urge an honest review of HUT as to its negative impact on food costs, local commerce, and the most vulnerable residents of our state,” said Wayne Pesce, President, Connecticut Food Association. “The CT Food Association is commissioning an economic impact study to gauge the effect of Hut on grocery prices and look forward to sharing that information with legislators in the near future.”

House Republicans this session submitted legislation (H.B. 5290) to repeal the tax and were eventually forced to petition for a public hearing when the Finance Committee’s chairmen would not raise their bill. At a mid-morning news conference Wednesday, Republicans were joined by business owners and representatives of a variety of industries affected by the tax, including construction, lumber, energy, equipment transport, and agriculture.

“Businesses targeted by this tax are, quite literally, the foundation of our state’s economy,” said Dave Palumbo of North Branford-based Palumbo Trucking. “This tax will cost my company, and those like mine, thousands of dollars each year. Legislators need to know that we now face the difficult challenge of either absorbing these costs, passing them on to our clients, or scaling back investments in our businesses and workforce. This is beyond frustrating.”

Rep. Holly Cheeseman, House Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, said it’s critical for lawmakers to hear from employers such as Palumbo and those at the news conference.

“We took the unusual step of forcing a public hearing on our bill because we felt so strongly that our colleagues who supported this tax should hear from the people who now have the real-world experience of planning for it and paying it,” said Cheeseman (R-37). “We have an opportunity to sunset this policy before it grows deep roots, joining other states that have abandoned their own versions of the tax. I hope everyone who serves on the Finance Committee will be compelled to take further action on this bill once they hear just how much this tax is impacting their constituents and the state’s business community.”

The Finance Committee’s public hearing on H.B. 5290 is Friday at 2 p.m.

Click here to testify in support of H.B. 5290.