Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Governor’s most recent proposal to install tolls on our highways has now been made public and will have a public hearing at the Legislative Office Building this Friday at 1p.m. The 32-page document outlines their plan to add 12 toll gantries for “Large Commercial Trucks” at specific bridges around the state including I-91, two locations on I-84, as well as Rt. 8, I-95 & I-395.
Commercial trucks are already heavily taxed by both the state and the federal governments. The State of Connecticut collects revenue from out-of-state trucks through interstate compacts including apportioned registration fees and revenue from fuel use taxes.
Data collected by the American Transportation Research Institute and the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut shows that a typical tractor-trailer truck paid $8,610 in state fees and an additional $8,906 in federal fees.
To review the document, you can click here.
Here are some important passages from the working draft:
- In Section 8, the language could be interpreted to mean that tolls could be expanded to passenger vehicles after July 1, 2022 – Line 273
- A Transportation Policy Council will be established to create and oversee policies for improving transportation, setting the price of the tolls, and choosing the projects that the toll revenue will finance. The Council will be made up of a disproportionate number of officials appointed by majority party Democrats, with Republican minority representation limited to only a few appointments from a board of more than 15 members – Line 309
- Transportation infrastructure plans will be deemed approved if they’re not acted on by the Transportation Council within 15 days. This not only removes legislative oversight but allows for projects to move forward without even actual approval from the Council – Line 421
- The Department of Transportation may propose, and the Transportation Policy Council may approve, changes to the toll rate by the rate of inflation or a rate based on the construction cost index, whichever is greater. This provision removes any legislative oversight on toll rates and allows potentially unchecked increases – Lines 142-148
- The governor will have the ability to declare an emergency in “the existence of extraordinary circumstances” and with “at least three-fifths of the members of each chamber of the General Assembly” vote to change the provisions of the plan, which could include raising toll rates or expand tolling to include other vehicles like passenger cars. The tolling provisions may also be changed to protect the bondholders, which also could expand tolling to other vehicles like passenger cars – Lines 279-294
- Bridge construction work would need to be performed by union workers and subject to prevailing wage requirements or project labor agreements which can add substantial project costs and limit the ability of local workers or smaller companies to be part of the project – Line 114
- Toll rates will be set 50% higher for trucks without a transponder, potentially increasing costs for small, local businesses that get passed directly to customers – Line 13
- There’s a provision that says trucks would only be assessed one toll per day, per direction, but it’s not specified whether that’s a calendar day or a 24-hour period. Depending on how this is interpreted it could cost twice as much to operate a truck than advertised – Line 139
On Friday, January 31, there will be a subject matter public hearing at the Legislative Office Building. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building (300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford). If you want your voice to be heard, I strongly encourage that you either testify in person or submit a written comment to the Transportation Committee. To submit a written comment, you can e-mail the committee at TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov.
Irene Haines – 34th District
As always, if you have questions or concerns about state government please do not hesitate to contact me at Irene.Haines@housegop.ct.gov or 1-800-842-1423.