HARTFORD — A meeting, but not necessarily a meeting of the minds. The Governor met with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle at his residence on the edge of Elizabeth Park Monday, as demonstrators on both sides of the issue occupied the sidewalk outside.
“These roads and bridges are falling down,” said David Roche, the President of the Connecticut State Building & Construction Trade Council. “I think having 40% of that income come from out of state cars and trucks is the way to go. Why do we want to pay 100% of the bill?” said Roche.
The No Tolls CT group do not support any measure of tolls.
“We already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation and we have some of the highest administrative costs per mile compared to other states. Connecticut needs to be looking at ways to save money cut costs. That will draw people to want to move to Connecticut,” explained Patrick Sasser, the groups founder.
Competing plans have been presented. Democrats have floated tolling truck only.
“Invariably when you look at that plan, you have to add cars to that because the expenses exceed the income as you bring it out over time,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney said, “No that won’t because if it were we would have done that already. There is such broad based opposition to passenger cars that that I think is completely off the table.”
Democrats said their newly revised conceptual plan would now generate 280-million in revenue. 180 million from tolls.
It would also use excess money from the rainy day fund and spread the federal loan repayments out over 35 years. Their plan would also bring back a transportation oversight board.
Democratic leaders also said they are open to a constitutional amendment to codify that only trucks would be tolls and not eventually move to all vehicles.
Gov. Ned Lamont said, “I am here to solve problems not to study problems...let’s start with trucks only.”
“Anything up to a constitutional amendment you can move forward with that that’s a plan that’s not praying on residence for years that’s not saying there’s more to come that saying we are tolling only tracks,” added House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz.
“Unfortunately they seem very much myopic in their view of having tolls of some Way shape or form and in this particular conversation it was still trucks,” rebutted House Republican Leader Themis Klarides.
“The confidence that it is going to remain a truck tall is very low because people don’t trust government because we make promises the legislature has made promises and hasn’t kept them in the past,” added Sen. Fasano.
Republicans said they don’t believe tolling trucks works. They want to know how a truck would be defined.
Republicans are demanding wholesale structural changes to the Special Transportation Fund. Truck only tolls is bringing in revenue to Rhode Island, but it’s still a lengthy legal battle that would likely come here if its gets passed.
As for a timetable, it’s not clear when an actual piece of legislation will be put together and it will be difficult with the holiday season to do anything before the next regular session in February.