State’s Special Transportation Fund headed for the red

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– There are two funds that run the state government.

There’s the general fund, which covers almost everything in state government. Then, there’s the special transportation fund, which as the name implies covers all transportation; roads, bridges, trains, buses.

Everyone knows the general fund is in constant deficit. The special transportation fund is also heading toward the red as well.

Receipts from the Connecticut tax on gasoline and diesel are declining at such a rapid rate, the the State’s Special Transportation Fund is now expected to be in the red in six months.

Related: Gov. Malloy, News 8’s Mark Davis have animated exchange on transportation

D.O.T. Commissioner Jim Redeker said today,  “Those deficit conditions prevent us from selling bonds for transportation. That creates an immediate crisis in our ability to pay existing obligations.”

The bond markets in New York will not loan money to the state for transportation projects unless the transportation fund has a positive cash flow to pay back on the loans. Receipts from that tax are sinking like a rock, because cars and trucks are getting better mileage every year and some vehicles (electric) don’t use any gas at all.

As reported first by News 8 back in February, the State Transportation Commissioner told lawmakers that the STF was headed for insolvency in 2020.

This was why there was such a big debate about electronic highway tolls.

Related: House goes full throttle on tolls debate, then puts on the brakes

But the Assembly did not act on this, so the STF is headed for the red by next July.  It means many of those big projects proposed by the Governor (replacing the Waterubury mixmaster, replacing the Aetna I-84 viaduct in Hartford, elevating Route 9 through Middletown) are going to have to be scrapped unless a funding source can be agreed to by the legislature.

Without it, the state would face cutbacks that include reducing D.O.T. staff. That would impact snow removal and other maintenance programs and close all rest areas.  “We would need to significantly increase rail and bus fares while also reducing service. We would need to eliminate the purchase of up to 200 rail cars and buses,” said Gov. Malloy.

Rep. Tony Guerrera (D-Rocky Hill), the chair of the Transportation Committee added, “It’s going to hit every community in some shape or form. Whether you use buses, whether you use rails, whether there’s a project in your town.”

There are hundreds of transpiration projects around the state that are now threatened.  The Governor specifically mentioned the new garage at union station in New Haven unless the legislature can approve another revenue source to cover these bonds it will never be built.

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