HARTFORD — Tolls are the headline in Hartford for these next two days.
Tuesday, Republicans held an event to rebuke two bills to put up tolls on Connecticut’s roads.
The tolls gantries are not just proposed for the state borders. Because of that, Republicans are calling it a mileage tax.
There are two bills, both up for a public hearing Wednesday that would establish tolls. The governor’s bill would put up 53 gantries on I-84, 91, 95 and Route 15.
Governor Ned Lamont proposed maximum discounts for Connecticut residents, but also congestion pricing where you pay more during peak traffic hours. Republicans claim Lamont might be trying to starve the transportation fund to artificially inflate the need for tolls.
Gov. Lamont froze the influx of new car sales tax revenue going into the fund at 8 percent.
“Is it a way of forcing tolls on us? I think the public can figure that out but I think he’s deliberately sabotaging it?” said Republican State Sen. Henri Martin of the 31st District.
And then there’s a bill from the state Department of Transportation that includes a provision that deems the bill automatically approved if no vote is taken within 15 days after a hearing.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said, “Who can call us into session? The leaders. The speaker of the house and the President of the Senate. If they don’t call us in that bill becomes law. Two people could decide whether or not that bill becomes law irrespective to what the rest of the body thinks.”
Cities and towns are taking their own action. Stamford and Trumbull just passed no toll resolutions Monday. Governor Lamont has said he’s proposing two options.
One would be truck only tolls and another is tolls for all vehicles. Governor Lamont has said that only the latter would provide enough funding to repair and replace and modernize the state’s transportation systems and infrastructure.
Unlike the toll proposal which relies on revenue, Republicans have their own plan called prioritize progress which relies on bonding for projects over 30 years without tolls or tax increases. Gov. Lamont, who said he’s on a debt diet, has indicated he does not support it.
Lamont's office sent us an email claiming 40 percent of the toll revenue would come from out-of-state drivers. Republicans said there’s no evidence to suggest that number goes over 30 percent. If you want to make your voice heard on tolls, Wednesday’s hearing will be in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building at 11 a.m.