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Governor Lamont changes stance, says he will consider tolling cars

HARTFORD — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who campaigned saying he would support highway tolls only for tractor-trailers, now says he's considering a wider tolling option.

The Democrat, in an op-ed published Saturday in Hearst Connecticut Media newspapers, says attorneys tell him that truck-only tolling likely could only be done on certain bridges to generate revenue for their repair.

He also posted a brief video on his Twitter account, saying he wanted to hear from people in Connecticut.

He says he would consider a bill that includes wider tolls on cars and trucks, if it includes a discount for Connecticut drivers or those who frequently travel the tolled highways. He says that would mean out-of-state drivers would provide about half of the state's tolling revenue. "We have been subsidizing our neighboring states’ road repairs by paying their tolls," Lamont wrote,  "and it’s estimated that out-of-state drivers would provide nearly 50 percent of our tolling revenue, as well."

Connecticut highways are supported by a gasoline tax which has not been raised in recent years. But that funding is insufficient to upgrade the state's aging highways, and is expected to decrease due to more fuel-efficient cars and electric vehicles.  Lamont says "I do not support raising the gas tax, as it is already high compared to our peers. Some people have espoused 'priority bonding,' where we further cut back on economic development and other bonding in favor of transportation. As I recently announced, Connecticut is in dire need of a “debt diet” and as such, I cannot support this type of borrowing."

Lamont also says that tolls are needed not only for infrastructure funding, but to help ease traffic with 'congestion pricing' - higher tolls during high traffic times.

In December, FOX61 Political Reporter Matt Caron asked then Governor-elect about his pledge to not toll passenger vehicles. At that time he said "Well that’s their recommendation. The legislature will have some thoughts on this, but my thought is what I told people for six months: Let’s start with tractor trailer trucks. I think I can get that passed. That gives us the revenues we need to start fixing our roads and bridges."

A state Department of Transportation study released in November estimated the state could collect $1 billion a year in tolls.

Lamont is scheduled to present his two-year state budget proposal on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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