Is legislature heading for a ‘lockbox roadblock?’

- FILE - State Capitol building in Hartford. (WTNH / Noelle Gardner)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There was a late night vote Monday night in a key legislative committee approving a Constitutional Amendment for a so called “Transportation Lockbox.” Something that supposedly everyone is for, but the vote was 9 to 8, strictly along party lines with all the Democrats voting for it and all the Republicans voting against it.

“Just yesterday a number of people who have voted for the very same language on a ‘lockbox’ voted against that language in committee,” said Governor Dannel Malloy at an event in West Hartford Tuesday.

There is no chance the legislature will move forward with highway tolls or any other transportation funding method without sending the lockbox idea to voters.  

“The people in the State of Connecticut need to make sure that when we put a dollar in to transportation funding that dollar is going to go toward critical investments on our roads, highways, our rail lines and on our buses,” said State Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk).

In December of 2015, the ‘lockbox’ passed the State Senate 35 to 1, but never came up in the House. The “lockbox” must pass both the House and Senate by a “Super” three quarter majority in order to get on the ballot for voters who would have to approve the idea during a regular election.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven says he favors the lockbox concept but there are still concerns about money raised for transportation before it gets to the so-called ‘lockbox.’ 

“Nothing stops the stream of income into the ‘lockbox’ being diverted so it is not the safety net that it’s purported to be,” said Fasano.

Some at the Capitol have said tolls are inevitable because the state’s Transportation Fund is projected to be in the red within a couple of years but without getting voter approval for the ‘lockbox’ it’s unlikely any new funding source could pass.

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