HARTFORD -- Tolls by 2023: That's what Gov. Malloy is calling for.
Malloy released the outline today of the plan to help stabilize the Special Transportation Fund (STF). THey say it will also help critical investments in the state's transportation system to take place.
They say without the reinstatement of cancelled projects, the state's infrastructure will fall further into a state of disrepair, making roads and bridges less safe for residents and harming the state's economy.
The proposal takes four specific actions in order to stabilize the STF and bring critical projects back online:
- A seven-cent increase in the gas tax, gradually implemented over a four-year period.
- Implementation of statewide electronic tolling beginning in fiscal year 2023.
- Acceleration of the transfer of car sales tax by two years.
- Establishment of a $3.00 per tire fee on tire purchases.
“Investment in transportation is investment in Connecticut’s economic future,” Governor Malloy said. “But for decades, our state has chronically underfunded our roads, bridges, tunnels, and rails, and as a result our infrastructure consistently ranks among the worst in the nation. Without new revenues this year, we face a transportation cliff. We will be forced to make draconian cutbacks, affecting even routine maintenance. If we want to revitalize our urban centers and attract the jobs of tomorrow, we absolutely must ensure the solvency of the Special Transportation Fund, and we must do it early in this legislative session. We can no longer afford to wait – it’s time for action.”
“The combination of immediate and long term additional revenue provided by the Governor’s recommendations represents a solution to maintaining our commitment to operate a safe highway, bus and rail transportation network and to avoid serious deterioration of our state and municipal transportation infrastructure,” CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said. “The additional revenue in fiscal year 2019 will relieve bus and rail riders of the potential for massive impacts to fares and service. Overall, the implementation of a growing, predictable income stream to the fund will enable the effective planning and delivery of the quality transportation system that Connecticut’s economy depends on.”
When it comes to raising taxes on gasoline, and adding electronic tolls on highways, folks we spoke to have a lot of opinions.
"I get it in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware all the way down just about," says Cape Cod native, Bob Bantick, “I’ll be disappointed obviously.”
Bantick frequently goes through Connecticut on his way to Florida, and he says Connecticut has been lucky to avoid tolls in recent years. Others we spoke to say they do not mind the idea of tolls, they are more concerned with how the state will allocate the funds once they are collected.
"As long as they’re used for what they’re supposed to be, I have no issue with them," says Byron McMichael, who drove to Connecticut from Louisiana to visit his mother.
Those who use the highways to get to work also say adding tolls would make for a pricey commute.
"I’m going to have to be paying every time I come down here to work," says Rivas Michael, " I don’t want to pay, I live in new haven it's far!"
Glenn Morrison says these proposals are similar to what he experiences in his home state of Massachusetts.
"They got enough taxes," says Morrison. "It’s almost as bad as tax-achusetts!"
Other drivers who travel throughout New England say Connecticut has been an anomaly when it comes to tolls.
“I drive a lot for my job, I'm all over New England, and New York, and Connecticut is the only state where we are not paying any tolls," says David Fournier of Groton. "It's kind of nice driving throughout Connecticut, but I'm surprised it has taken this long for it to come up again."
In addition to tolls, a gas tax could also have you digging deeper into your wallet.
“I think that’s bad, I mean we are one of the most expensive states for gasoline, and that’s horrible," says Fournier. "I like filling up in New York or filling up in Rhode Island because it is a lot cheaper, and you come to Connecticut, and it is just so much more expensive, it’s already a very expensive state we don’t need to pay more for gasoline.”
"There's two choices at this point," said Don Shubert, Chair of the CT Industries Association. "We can continue to barrel down a road to ruin in this state or we can invest in a state that works for everyone."