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Toll bill passes second committee; compromise bill still being negotiated

HARTFORD — The Governors original toll bill passed through a second committee Wednesday on a strict party line vote. We learned tolls could be spaced out approximately every 6.6 miles. Peak rates may be set at about 4.4 cents a mile and 3 or 3.5 cents for off peak travel.

Wednesday’s bill is same old bill that passed through the Transportation Committee. It could end up being the vehicle used insert the Governor’s new compromise bill language, but we still don’t have all the details.

Rep. Vincent Candelora, (R) House Deputy Republican Leader said, “If we’re going to debate tolls, give us a plan. Don’t keep going to microphone and saying we need more revenue.”

We learned Wednesday the projected annual revenue tolls could generate, which once stood at 1.2-billion is down to between 700-800 million.

Speaker Aresimowicz says the revenue will be put to good use. “Guaranteeing the money only goes to the Special Transportation Fund to Fox the projects where the tolls were collected.”

The Speaker told Fox 61 they’ve been vague, on purpose. “If you say it once and it changes, next thing you know you are lying to the public and you are misleading and you are back to your same old tricks. To avoid that trap and it is a trap we are being very vague.”

Republicans are continuing to demand specifics. Sen. Henri Martin, (R) 31st District said, “Give us the details. We’ve asked for it numerous times and it seems to be a moving target all the time.”

And despite rebuke by Democrats and rejection by Governor Lamont, Republicans continue to push their tolls alternative. “Prioritize progress basically says Prioritize these projects and put funding toward them and never mind the political handouts or the pet projects,” said Martin.

We also learned Wednesday that CT EZ pass holders will initially be offered  a 30% discount, but an extra 20% discount would automatically kick in for frequent users based on the activity on their account. A frequent user might be defined as someone who uses toll roads 4 or more days a week.

The speaker told Fox 61 once the bill is hammered out, a rollout will be as transparent as possible. “When the bill comes out it, it’s not going to be an amendment that comes out 10 minutes before it runs. We are going to give adequate time for people to look at it,” said Rep. Aresimowicz.

House Leadership says it’s possible they could handle votes on both tolls and marijuana next week. As for the vaccine religious exemption issue we’ve been covering, you can expect to know more within 48 hours.

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