Gas tax hike proposed

(AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–The 2018 Connecticut General Assembly Session begins in two weeks on Feb. 7 and among the first proposals is a hike in the tax on gasoline.

The co-chair of the powerful ‘Finance, Revenue and Bonding’ committee says he wants to get the conversation started on transportation funding, but Republicans are already putting the brakes on the idea.

The four-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax is being proposed by Rep. Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford) to solve what Governor Dannel Malloy has described as a transportation funding crisis.

“Tolls are two to three, four years out,” said Rojas. “We have an immediate need right now. We need to identify a revenue source that’s going to help meet our transportation needs.”

This mirrors what the Governor said two weeks ago when he announced that $1 billion worth of transportation projects around the state have been stopped because the Special Transportation Fund will creep into the red starting in July.

Related: CT DOT to hold public meeting on transportation plan in Newington

Republicans are already pouncing.

“In Connecticut we don’t have a ‘fruit of the month club,’ we have a ‘tax of the month club.’, said the House Minority Leader, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby). “So they just determine, close their eyes, stick their hand in a pot and figure out which tax the want to push this year. That’s not a way to do business.”

Representative Rojas says he knows people are already jumping all over this idea, but he says the debate on transportation funding has to get started.

“We need to have that conversation. There’s certainly a lot of talk and rhetoric around transportation. I don’t see anybody really putting any ideas forward and this was an attempt to get that conversation started,” said Rojas.

However, Klarides notes that the Republicans have been attempting to address this for the past three years. She says that the Governor has been attempting to do too much all at once on transportation and that by prioritizing projects it can be funded without tolls or a gas tax hike.

“We looked back to see which roads and bridges needed to be fixed first and prioritize those and then moved on to what needs to be built and developed and added to,” said Klarides.

That AAA survey that came out this week showed that 47 percent would support adding tolls, but only 16 percent supported increasing taxes on gas.

Related: AAA poll shows how CT drivers feel about transportation funding options

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