Is political pendulum swinging toward approving highway tolls?

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Advocates say highway tolls are a much fairer way. That tolls are really a ‘user fee.’ If you use a highway; you pay. If you don’t use a highway; you don’t. The Transportation Committee’s strongest toll opponent, Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) disagrees.

“It’s very well understood that Connecticut taxes too much and this is just another tax,” said Boucher.

The strongest opposition to any form of tolls on the highways is coming from Western Connecticut and the idea that Connecticut motorists that go back and forth across the state line would get a cheaper rate doesn’t fly.

Related Content: State ‘Transportation Fund’ running out of gas

“Most of my constituents who speak to me about this are a little distrustful that if a discount was able to be offered that it would remain in place long term,” said Bethel Democratic First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker.

“I don’t agree that we need to raise more money in this state, I believe that we need to look at the spending side,” said Stephen Bull, the head of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.

But as News 8 first reported on Friday; state lawmakers have now been presented with projections that show that receipts from the current tax on gasoline are declining so fast that the Transportation Fund will be in the red within two years. That’s the fund that pays for all road and bridge repairs, let alone for new projects that almost everyone agrees must be built to keep the state economically competitive.

“We can put tolls in a lot of different ares in this state and generate a whole lot of revenue that will help replace some of the failing or decreasing ‘Gas Tax,'” said Ridgefield Democratic First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

What seems to be gaining traction among some lawmakers is a plan to reduce the ‘Gas Tax’ and allow commuters an ‘Income Tax‘ credit for the amount they spend on tolls for commuting to work.

“Maybe we should get rid of the ‘Gas Tax‘ all together and look at tolls as a source of revenue for the future,” said Marconi.

It’s expected the committee will be voting on a highway toll proposal sometime by the middle of next month.

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