Connecticut governor promotes road funding, transportation 'lockbox'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gov. Dannel Malloy said he wants to get road work done and make sure that Connecticut’s transportation money is used for its intended purpose.

During his State of the State speech last week, the governor spent most of his speech talking about how transportation would be a priority during the 2015 regular session.

Malloy emphasized his desire to create “a state where we attract new businesses because our highways and rail networks can deliver goods efficiently, without delay” and “a state with three vibrant, deep-water ports exporting more and more goods.”

He proposed widening Interstate 95 from Branford to the Rhode Island line and fixing ramps along the roadway.

The governor also said he would advocate for a “lockbox” to prohibit raids on the state’s transportation fund.

Raids of the state’s Special Transportation Fund are not uncommon. Through the years legislatures and governors have tapped road money for other purposes.

“I am proposing that Connecticut create a secure transportation lockbox that will ensure every single dollar raised for transportation is spent on transportation, now and into the future,” Malloy told lawmakers.

The Democratic governor said he would veto any legislation to raise new revenue for transportation unless the General Assembly first sends him a bill creating a lockbox.

“No gimmicks. No diversions.”

Some Republican lawmakers raised questions about the governor’s lockbox model. They point out that a new law set to take effect in July makes Special Transportation Fund money off limits for non-transportation related purposes.

“In theory this legislation should be sufficient. … I agree with the governor that we need to do more, but only because I’ve witnessed past legislatures use gimmicks and diversions to manage transportation funds,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said in prepared remarks.

The governor said he would outline the first steps for his plan, including how he wants to pay for needed work, when he presents the state budget in February.

During his re-election campaign last year, Malloy said that he is not interested in tax increases. Instead, he has indicated a willingness to discuss tolls if certain conditions are met.

Tolls have been off-limits in the state since the mid-’80s when state officials removed tolls from the Connecticut Turnpike.

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