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What You Need to Know About TOLLS, as Legislature Holds a Hearing Wednesday

March 14, 2018 By Staff
What You Need to Know About TOLLS, as Legislature Holds a Hearing Wednesday

The legislature is considering at least four bills concerning tolls on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know about one of the largest effective tax proposals in Connecticut in years.

The Connecticut legislature’s Transportation Committee will consider at least four bills concerning tolls at a Wednesday morning hearing, representing another step in some Democrats’ efforts to reinstate tolls in a state that’s suffering from budget crises and economic stagnation.

Here’s Reclaim Connecticut’s rundown of what you need to know about tolls.

THE BILLS

On the committee’s Wednesday agenda are four bills:

  • S.B. 389: AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE CONNECTICUT TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
  • H.B. 5046: AN ACT CONCERNING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS.
  • H.B. 5391: AN ACT CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE.
  • H.B. 5393: AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE CONNECTICUT TRANSPORTATION FINANCE AUTHORITY TO MAINTAIN MAJOR STATE HIGHWAYS.

WHAT THEY WOULD DO

S.B. 389 establishes a “Connecticut Transportation Authority” whose purpose would be to “construct, maintain and oversee certain highways and electronic tolling systems on Interstate 95, Interstate 91, Interstate 84, the Wilbur Cross Parkway and the Merritt Parkway of this state.” The bill does not specify costs of establishing tolls or what drives would be charged.

H.B. 5046, introduced by Democratic leaders in the legislature, would implement Gov. Dan Malloy’s (D-Conn.) recommendations on tolls (more on that below).

H.B. 5391 would instruct the Commissioner of Transportation in Connecticut to conduct environmental studies on implementing electronic tolls, and submit recommendations to the legislature.

H.B. 5393 would “stablish the Connecticut Transportation Finance Authority to maintain major state highways if and when the General Assembly authorizes the implementation of electronic tolling systems on such major state highways.”

HOW MUCH WOULD TOLLS COST?

It’s unclear from the above bills, but Reclaim Connecticut’s analysis of the Malloy plan said the following:

Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.), the most unpopular governor in America, is giving Connecticut taxpayers a heck of a parting gift on his way out the door: an effective tax hike equal to between $4 billion and $5 billion over 10 years.

…Most of the $4 billion to $5 billion over the next 10 years comes from tolls, which Malloy’s administration estimates will raise between $600 million and $800 million a year once implemented in fiscal year (FY) 2023. At least $500 million comes from Malloy’s projections for new taxes in the next four years.

WILL TOLLS HELP FAILING INFRASTRUCTURE?

Even if a majority in both legislatures want tolls, will they help with Connecticut’s infrastructure problems? It’s a question without an obvious answer, as a recent study found Connecticut spends more on highways than most states but with worse results.

Connecticut ranked fifth-to-last in “Overall Highway Performance Ratings.” Reason’s 2018 release “ranks the performance of state highway systems in 2015, with congestion data from 2016.” Only Hawaii, Alaska, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are behind Connecticut.

…Reason found Connecticut spends more money on highways than most other states (the “disbursements” rankings) but still has some of the poorest conditions in the nation (the “condition” rankings).

Keep up with Reclaim Connecticut for updates on the tolls proposal.