HARTFORD — Day two of a contentious toll battle. Democrats are firing back, a day after Republicans poked holes in their toll proposals. It’s an issue that has residents reaching for their wallets.
Governor Ned Lamont originally said he’s giving residents two options, trucks only and all vehicles. Wednesday he made it clear that his revenue goals would only be achieved through tolling everyone. Republicans are saying there’s a third option. No tolls at all.
From the crumbling I-84 viaduct to the congested mix master, Gov. Ned Lamont has taken his tolls message across the state. Wednesday he brought it back under the gold dome.
“Look. It’s tough,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “I hate to say but we have to pay our bills. We haven’t done that in this state. We’ve been putting everything on the credit card.”
Surrounded by political and private sector allies, the Governor’s press conference follows a Republican rebuke of tolls.
“When they went to go talk about tolls, what’s the first thing they did? Divert the money to transportation into the general fund,” said Senate Republican Leader State Sen. Len Fasano.
The Governor has revenue goals. “If we’re able to get 800-million or a billion a year in ongoing toll revenue, 400-million of which would be paid by out of staters,” said Gov. Lamont.
But I asked him, what if those revenues don’t meet expectations? Would the tolls be raised and would he be willing to put a mechanism in place that would assure people who this is not a direct pipeline into their pockets?
“There are a number of ways we can do this Matt,” responded the Governor. “One is if we have a public private partnership a lot of that risk is taken by our private partner in terms of revenues coming in. Let me talk to legislatures about it, if that helps allay people’s concerns that this is money going to make our state more productive and faster moving, I’ll think about that, absolutely.”
Beyond the political press conferences, the people have a voice. 450 people testified to the Transportation Committee. The No Tolls Connecticut petition has nearly 53,000 signatures.
“What is the actual plan to fix the roadways?” asked group founder Patrick Sasser.
Different visions from Democrats and Republicans. But they both say it’s a fight for our future.
“Anyone who is not committed to tolls in 2019 is not committed to dealing with our infrastructure problem regarding our roads and bridges,” said State Sen. Marty Looney, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
Former Gubernatorial Candidate, Republican Bob Stefanowski said, “Our cost to build roads are 9 times the national average. We should be looking at how to get that cost down.”
Some cities and towns are fighting back against tolls. Stamford and Trumbull just passed a no toll resolutions to send a message to Hartford.