Posted on November 26, 2019 by Devin Keehner
HARTFORD – In a much anticipated summit with the governor and other lawmakers, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today restated her caucus’ opposition to any tolls, and offered alternatives to funding an enhanced transportation plan, including spending reductions, restructuring the Special Transportation Fund and opening up all construction jobs to qualified bidders in order to save money.
“Unless we have a top to bottom restructuring of our general fund expenditures and make sure the Special Transportation Fund is dedicated to roads, bridges and rail, we will be unable to undertake the massive initiatives we need in or to meet our transportation needs,’’ Klarides said. “I made it clear in the meeting with the governor and my colleagues that House Republicans remain dead set against any tolls, but that there are workable alternatives rather than simply adding more revenue streams.’’
Klarides said we must start to overhaul the STF by taking the costs associated with state employee, wages, fringe benefits, and pensions out and placing them in the general fund. In addition, Klarides said that construction costs can be reduced by billions over time if the projects are not limited to favored contractors.
Also, the bipartisan budget enacted in 2018 required the state to seek proposals to find at least $500 million in savings throughout state government and Klarides said that effort should be redoubled. The state did receive proposals back but none of the consultants were retained.
“Simply raising more revenue from taxpayers and motorists is not the answer and will not solve the problem. The idea that we will only toll trucks or rely on out of state motorists to fund these projects is a fallacy,’’ Klarides said. She said, “There is a fundamental lack of trust in state government that we have to overcome by being honest with the people of Connecticut.’’