Democrats: Tolls in Connecticut ‘a fairness issue’

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — At the State Capitol Wednesday, Democratic leaders are saying that electronic highway tolls are inevitable; while Republicans say tolls won’t work and they’ll put up a roadblock to stop them.

Noting that the states all around us are raising billions with tolls to pay for road and other infrastructure improvements, toll advocates say Connecticut residents now see tolls as a ‘fairness issue.” With state government facing massive red ink over the next two years, tolls appear to be part of the solution being pushed by the Democratic leadership.

News 8 has learned that Democrats will be proposing that electronic highway tolls be included as part of their state budget solution when all sides meet again next week.

“Anybody who puts it in their budget for 2018 or 2019 fiscal year is being totally irresponsible,” said State Senate President Pro tem Len Fasano (R – North Haven).

Related Content: Tolling bill facing multiple roadblocks

The Republican leader in the Senate says all 18 of his members will vote against tolls because, he says they won’t solve the infrastructure funding problem That the only way to rebuild is to prioritize the big projects and use the existing Gas Tax, which is admittedly bringing in less money.

State Senator Toni Boucher (R – Weston), a member of the State Transportation Committee, said the difference between Connecticut and other states lies in an auto property tax.

This is a very bad idea. Other states that they point to that have a toll have Income Taxes that have deductables on them. They don’t have a Car Property Tax.”

Another member of the Transportation Committee, State Senator Tony Guererra (D – Rocky Hill), said that a revenue source is necessary to support the State’s infrastructure plans.

If you want to build an infrasture that works then you need a source of revenue.”

Advocates note that the D.O.T. says the transportation fund, which is mostly funded by the current tax on gasoline, will be in the red within two years. The Democratic leadership appears to be ready to go full throttle on imposing electronic tolls with an emphasis on Interstate 95 between New Haven and the New York border, and believe residents are accepting of the idea.

“A lot of our members from our caucus are talking to their constituents. People of the state understand it. They see it as a fairness issue,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D – Southington).

Related Content: House Speaker says some tolls could be ready in 18 months

“It is more responsible to have tolls where we can capture some revenue from all of the out of state drivers who contribute to the wear and tear on Connecticut’s roadways without spending a penny here because they often gas up on either side of Connecticut,” State Senate President Pro tem Martin Looney (D – New Haven) said.

Related Content: State drops study on Conn. resident mileage tax

The toll plan that passed the Transporation Committee calls for a 2-and-a-half cent cut in the Gas Tax over a five year period. Advocates now say they want to increase that to a nickel cut, and to create and Income Tax deduction for the amount you would pay in tolls for commuting.

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