Connecticut governor looks to fuel taxes, tolls to fund transportation

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/16/2018

Tolls and other taxes are among the options touted by Connecticut’s governor to help the state address transportation needs.

Gov. Dannel Malloy wants to make adjustments to the current two-year state budget. His recently unveiled proposal includes increasing fuel taxes and tolls. It also includes a new tax on tires.

The Democratic governor has warned that Connecticut’s transportation program is in crisis. Without additional funding, he said the state would need to scrap certain plans and suspend projects that include major highway rebuilds.

His proposed changes would restore $4.3 billion for planned transportation projects.

The governor has asked legislators to raise the state’s fuel rates by seven cents over four year years. The gas tax now is 25 cents and the diesel rate is 41.7 cents.

The rate increase would eventually raise $105 million annually in new revenue.

Relying on fuel tax revenue to meet the state’s needs is not viewed as sufficient by some elected officials. They say that relatively low fuel prices and the expected growth of more fuel efficient vehicles, and alternatively fueled vehicles, will continue to reduce the amount of tax paid.

Electronic tolling on state highways is considered a necessity by the governor and other Democrats.

Tolls have been off limits in the state since the mid-’80s when state officials removed tolls from the Connecticut Turnpike. Concerns about safety and congestion spurred the state to remove toll booths.

Advocates say toll collection could be operational by 2022.

Another concern voiced by opponents is the lack of a guarantee that toll revenues, or any other road revenues, could not be raided for other purposes.

In an effort to address this concern, a question on the November statewide ballot will ask voters whether to amend the state’s constitution to create a “lockbox” for transportation revenue.

The governor’s plan includes a $3 fee to be added on new tire purchases. The fee is estimated to raise $8 million per year.

Statehouse Republicans have said the transportation fund is in its current condition due to choices made by the governor since taking office seven years ago. They highlight recent raids of the Special Transportation Fund to transfer revenue to the state’s general fund.

“Over the last four years alone Gov. Malloy and legislative Democrats took $164 million from the state’s Special Transportation Fund to balance their budgets,” Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said in prepared remarks. “Gov. Malloy then authorized a transportation spending plan he knew couldn’t be supported by the fund.”

Other options floated by state legislators to help bail out the transportation fund include directing sales tax on motor vehicles to the roads account.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Connecticut, click here.

 

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