HARTFORD — A reversal of from Gov. Ned Lamont has led to backlash from state Republican leaders and runner up for Connecticut Governor, Bob Stefanowski.
Stefanowski, sat down with FOX61's Jenn Bernstein to share his thoughts on Lamont's stance on tolls.
"Obviously it’s pretty disappointing. I think it’s the type of thing that gives politicians a bad name, Jenn. We had five debates, Governor Lamont and I, and tolls came up in every one of those debates. He looked me in the eye and said he was only going to toll tractor trailers. More importantly he told the voters of Connecticut he wasn’t going to impose a tax and a toll and six weeks in, he’s doing it."
Bernstein: "Is there something to be said where it’s okay to change your mind once you’ve done the research?"
Stefanowski: "Before you make a campaign promise like that you should have done the research. There’s nothing that’s fundamentally changed before the election until now."
Bernstein: "What do we do about revenue for our transportation system because he is not inaccurate saying the fuel tax is not necessarily sustainable and you have a lot of people on our roads and using them and not having to pay a price. What would you do have done?"
Stefanowski: "The problem is in all of the proposals so far they've all been revenue generators it's an overused phrase but we don't have a revenue problem in the state of Connecticut we have a cost problem. The building costs on our roads are nine times the national average we need to look at how to cut costs and do things more efficiently."
FOX61 reached out to the Governor Ned Lamont's office for an interview but were told he wasn’t available. Lamont is set to address the General Assembly Wednesday to unveil his budget proposal.
Gov. Ned Lamont has said he will take the heat and share the credit.
“I think it’s very unfortunate. There’s no way I can support a toll on all cars. I don’t think it economically works.”
The heat now coming from Republican leaders like Senator Len Fasano who have previously spoken favorably about Lamont.
“So I’ve also provided you with a second option it would be trucks as well as cars,” said Gov. Lamont over the weekend when he proposed tolling all cars.
It’s a flip-flop from the campaign and even after FOX61 asked the then governor-elect if he intends to keep his promise to only toll tractor trailers.
“My thought is what I told people for six months. Le’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,” he said.
Tolling all cars is expected to generate $800 million annually.
State. Sen. Matt Lesser (D) from the 9th District said, “I think it’s important to hear what the Governor has to say.”
Gov. Lamont said tolling only tractor trailers would bring in between $45-200 million, and isn’t enough to repair, rebuild and modernize transportation infrastructure.
“Anywhere we go on the East Coast of the U.S., we pay tolls and out-of-state guys aren’t paying anything,” said Lesser.
“I am taken a back by his reversal on Saturday morning of the tolls without any notification and without looking at a Republican plan that we’ve had out there for years,” said Fasano.
He’s talking about “prioritize progress”, the Republican plan they said would provide $65 billion for transportation projects over the next 30 years without tolls, or tax increases.
“We only need now to bond for our needs. Leave our wants out of there and do those things that are core functions of government.”
Governor Lamont’s revenue generators don’t end with tolls. He’s floating a tax to sugary drinks, liquor bottles, plastic bags and vaping products.
“More taxes, new taxes. They say it’s to stop behavior. But it’s like government saying I need to tax you to show you how you are bad. We can do better than that,” said Sen. Fasano. Sen. Matt Lesser said, “If we tax anybody we should be taxing people who can afford to pay it, not working families out there. But each of these proposals is different. The details matter.”
To soften the blow, the governor would likely accompany tolls with an income tax credit or reduction in the state gas tax.
“I also want to hear about the number of gantries because the last thing we should be doing is forcing traffic around tolls and onto local roads,” said Lesser.
The governor is proposing what he calls maximum tolling discounts for Connecticut drivers.
The governors office said it’s would cost $500 million a year for bridge repair only, not including modernizing transportation infrastructure to improve public transit and reduce gridlock. Republicans said we should be looking at more public/private partnerships and cutting spending.