In June, the legislative session ended without any vote on the governor’s toll proposal, after taking the summer to huddle and try to rearrange the dock chairs on the Titanic with another plan, Gov. Ned Lamont released a new transportation plan that would be funded in part by 14 electronic tolls.
From the onset, I want to reiterate my opposition to putting any tolls on Connecticut highways.
The governor’s new toll plan would implement a so-called ‘temporary tolls’ plan on state highway bridges. The new $256 million “temporary” toll tax collected from in-state commuters, and the $140 million collected from out-of-state commuters, would go toward paying off loans for transportation projects. Of course, this assumes the toll rates would remain the same and not increase in the future.
According to the plan, the borrowing term is 27 years, with additional borrowing in the 10th year. That means we would have tolls for a minimum of 37 years. I, and most if not all my constituents would not and do not view 37 years as temporary.
We must also realize the public does not trust state government. The latest example is the state budget which passed in June. The Special Transportation Fund (STF) Lockbox was diverted and/or raided by $171 Million effectively starving the fund. Also, between 2011 and 2017 Democrat lawmakers who control the legislature short-changed the (STF) by $650 million. This helped manufacture the so-called state transportation “crisis.” Considering Connecticut’s history of so called “temporary” taxes that have turned out to be permanent like the state income tax, it is no wonder lawmakers cannot be trusted.
Connecticut residents already pay one of the highest gasoline tax rates in the country without tolls, and we are currently the second most taxed state in the nation.
Additionally, the governor is calling on Connecticut taxpayers to finance more for rail and bus services with $7.1 billion on public transportation systems, including $6.2 billion on rail. State residents already pay way too much for state rail services, paying 22% of the state rail subsidy for Metro North and 95% of the state subsidy Shoreline East. Enough is enough!
Let’s stop scaring families into thinking we have a transportation crisis with falling bridges, and let’s sit down and write an honest budget. No more maxing out the state’s credit card, no more raising taxes on working families. We need to make the difficult choices and learn to say no to more government spending.
As 2019 draws to a close and we gather with our families and loved ones to celebrate this holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the privilege and honor of representing your interests in the Connecticut legislature. I am humbled by and so grateful for the trust you have placed in me. I hope your holiday season is filled with happiness and good health. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to all.
As always, if you have questions about tolls or our state government, please contact me by phone 1- (800) 842-1423 or email Gale.Mastrofrancesco@housegop.ct.gov.