RA 17-1—HJ 100

Government Administration and Elections Committee

RESOLUTION APPROVING A STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO PROTECT TRANSPORTATION FUNDS

SUMMARY: This resolution does the following:

1. maintains the Special Transportation Fund (STF) as a perpetual fund and prohibits the legislature from enacting any law authorizing the spending of STF funds for any purpose other than transportation;

2. requires the legislature to use the STF solely for transportation purposes, which includes paying debt service on state obligations incurred for such purposes; and

3. requires sources of funding, money, and receipts that must be legally credited, deposited, or transferred to the STF on or after the amendment's effective date to be credited, deposited, or transferred to the STF as long as state law authorizes the state, or any of its officers, to collect or receive these sources.

The ballot designation to be used when the amendment is presented at the general election is:

Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to ensure (1) that all moneys contained in the Special Transportation Fund be used solely for transportation purposes, including the payment of debts of the state incurred for transportation purposes, and (2) that sources of funds deposited in the Special Transportation Fund be deposited in said fund so long as such sources are authorized by statute to be collected or received by the state?

EFFECTIVE DATE: The resolution will appear on the 2018 general election ballot. If a majority of those voting in that election approves the amendment, it will become part of the state constitution.

BACKGROUND

Related Resolution

The resolution is identical to a resolution the legislature passed in 2015 (RA 15-1, December Special Session). That resolution passed by a majority vote but did not receive the three-fourths vote of each chamber necessary to place it on the 2016 general election ballot.

STF

By law, the STF pays for state highway and public transportation projects. It is supported by a number of revenue streams, including the motor fuels tax; motor carrier road tax; petroleum products gross earnings tax; certain motor vehicle receipts and license, permit, and fee revenue (e.g., driver's license fees); the sales tax on private motor vehicle sales; motor vehicle-related fines and penalties; and a portion of state sales tax revenue (CGS 13b-61, -61a, -61b, and 12-408(1)(L)).

By law, money in the fund must be used first for debt service on special tax obligation bonds and to pay for certain transportation projects. Remaining funds must be used to pay for (1) general obligation bonds issued for transportation projects, (2) budget appropriations for the departments of Transportation and Motor Vehicles, (3) Department of Energy and Environmental Protection boating regulation and enforcement, and (4) the Department of Social Services' transportation for employment independence program (CGS 13b-69).

Statutory “Lockbox”

By law, the use of STF funds is restricted to transportation purposes. The legislature is prohibited from enacting any law authorizing the use of the funds for any purpose other than transportation (CGS 13b-68(b)). But under the principle of “legislative entrenchment,” it is unclear whether these statutory provisions are enforceable with regard to future legislatures.

Legislative entrenchment refers to one legislature statutorily restricting a future legislature's ability to enact legislation. The Connecticut Supreme Court has held that one such provision, a statute prohibiting general legislation from being included in an appropriations bill, was unenforceable. According to the court, “to hold otherwise would be to hold that one General Assembly could effectively control the enactment of legislation by a subsequent General Assembly. This is obviously not true, except where vested rights, protected by the constitution, have accrued under the earlier act” (Patterson v. Dempsey, 152 Conn. 431 (1965)).