JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
Disclaimer: The following JOINT FAVORABLE Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
Creates A Two-Step Toll Authorization Process In Addition to Various STF Revenue provisions. The bill would:
Ø require DOT to (1) conduct studies and satisfy other federal requirements for the purpose of developing tolling systems, (2) procure a program manager to help develop the systems, and 3) prepare a tolling proposal to submit for legislative approval
Ø Proposal must (1) implement tolling on I-91, I-95, I-84, and the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways; (2)identify the specific locations (i.e., gantries) where tolls may be charged, the toll rates and discounts, and the time periods for peak and off-peak travel; and (3) estimate the toll system's capital and cooperating cost
Ø Requires the Transportation Committee to hold a hearing, vote on the proposal, and send it to the legislature; proposal may be approved by a majority of each chamber or rejected by a majority of either chamber; proposal is deemed approved if neither chamber votes on it within 30 days of its receipt
Ø Includes tolling implementation language (generally the same as the governor's bill) which becomes effective if DOT's toll proposal is approved (SS 3-9)
Ø Reduces the motor fuel tax by one cent over a five-year period, beginning in the fiscal year after (1) toll collection begins and (2) STF revenue reaches 2.5 times the estimated debt service payments (S10)
Ø Accelerates the transfer to the STF of sales tax from motor vehicles, retaining the five-year phase-in (20% per year) but requiring that it start in FY 19 instead of in FY 21) (SS 11 & 12)
(Most provisions are effective upon passage)
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Martin M. Looney - President Pro Tempore – Business leaders have made clear to us that transportation investment is critical for future economic growth. The ability for distributors to get products to market on time, the ability for businesses to be able to predict the travel time of workers, Connecticut workers having access to the economic opportunities of New York and Boston and affordable and reliable transportation of service workers to our economic hubs are vital for Connecticut to grow and prosper.
Our traditional revenue sources are no longer adequate. As gasoline powered cars become more fuel efficient, and as electric cars truly take hold in America, we can no longer rely on these traditional sources to drive our transportation future.
Unlike the narrative that some would like to promote, we have significantly invested in the STF, by having General Fund revenue sources become STF revenue sources. This has proven to be tremendously difficult at a time when our GF has been under significant pressure. The GF has no more to give. We must find another way.
In 2005, the legislature made significant commitment to transportation in Connecticut with tremendous success (modernized the rail fleet, built new passenger stations that have allowed one of the busiest rail lines in the country to increase ridership). We construct and now operate the most successful rapid transit line in the country and we anxiously await the start of service on the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield Rail Line which has already spurred economic activity in places such as Meriden.
We all know that there is much to do on Connecticut's highways, bridges and transit corridors. We have too many bridges that are in very poor condition; sections of our highway system that are beyond capacity; commutes for our residents that are too long.
Tolls provide an answer that we can no longer ignore. We are the only state on the Eastern Seaboard that does not have tolls and our economic competitiveness has suffered because of this it has been estimated that we could collect as much as $700 to $800 million in tolls here in Connecticut. But tolls take time to construct and implement.
In implementing tolls, the creation of an Authority to conduct is a natural choice. Most states that have tolls have either one or multiple Authorities that operate and maintain tolls and the roads and bridges they fund. It is time for Connecticut to pave a stable and ambitious transportation future. Our economic growth is dependent upon it. Tolling legislation is a critical component to a prosperous Connecticut.
Emil Frankel (Member, Transportation Finance Panel; Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy; U.S. Department of Transportation; Formerly, Commissioner Connecticut Department of Transportation) - If enacted, this legislation would do much to assure the continued solvency of the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and the capacity of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to undertake projects that will maintain Connecticut's transportation infrastructure and key facilities in a state of good repair. The provisions in this bill are consistent with the recent budget recommendations of the Governor, and the proposals put forth by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth and the Transportation Finance Panel.
The enactment of recommendations is critically important. Without augmenting transportation-related revenues in this session and adopting new forms of user-based transportation revenues for the long run, STF will face insolvency in the next few years. Moreover, in the absence of these revenue measures the state will be unable to continue the issuance of revenue bonds for current and future projects and DOT will have to cancel or delay projects essential to the safety and reliability of Connecticut's transportation facilities.
Gasoline tax cannot provide sufficient revenues to support Connecticut's transportation infrastructure at an appropriate level. As we learned during out work on the panel, without the additional revenue from tolls, Connecticut will be unable to raise sufficient capital to invest in key projects.
Tolls are an effective and efficient form of user fees, based on the principle that those who benefit from the state's highway system should be the principal sources of its funding.
With the passage of the “lockbox” constitutional provision this fall, Connecticut's voters and taxpayers can be assured that toll revenue will not be diverted to other uses and will only be used for transportation investments.
Connecticut is alone among the states of the East and Great Lakes regions without tolls. Tolls are essential parts of a package of transportation revenue-raising tools. Tolls will not, however, immediately provide new revenues for STF and DOT. It will take three or four years, at minimum, before an electronic and fully “open-road” tolling system will begin to provide revenues to STF. Therefore, I urge you to accelerate the transfer of revenues generated by the sales of new cars into STF within this biennium as provided for in the legislation before you.
I urge the enactment of an increase in the gasoline tax, along with the accelerated deposit of new car sales taxes into STF in order to “bridge the gap” between the current unacceptable funding situation and a more stable transportation funding framework, once tolling has been implemented.
The enactment of this legislation is critical to a safe and economically vibrant Connecticut.
Rick Dunne, Executive Director, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments – For tolling to successfully support Connecticut's transportation infrastructure and operations, it is imperative that a separate and independent authority be established to construct, maintain and operate BOTH, specific transportation facilities and an electronic tolling system in Connecticut and completely segregate generated revenues from the general fund to be used exclusively for transportation operations and maintenance.
The authority envisioned under SB 389 would: Oversee construction, operation and maintenance of transportation facilities and toll systems on designated highways.
It would ensure that revenues generated by tolls are held separately from General Government, cannot be comingled with other funding sources and are restricted to specific transportation purposes as allowed under current federal regulations.
Additionally, the Authority should be empowered to enter into partnerships with private entities and issue revenue debt under its own authority without the backing of the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut.
The Legislature would be well-advised to step back from this Executive Branch function and limit its own involvement to legislation and oversight. It should NOT try to manage the system through prescriptive governing statutes and should not try to control a majority of the Authority Board. To this end any tolling Authority legislation should empower each elected Governor to appoint the Chair and Executive Director of the Authority.
Donald J. Shubert - Connecticut Construction Industries Association Inc. – CCIA supports because the existing revenues streams sustaining the Special Transportation Fund cannot keep pace with the State's mounting transportation needs. Implementing electronic tolling in Connecticut can help fill a growing gap between current revenue streams and much needed transportation investments. It is important to note that tolls will not address the current revenue shortfall … as they cannot be implemented quickly and may be part of a longer term strategy.
Connecticut's transportation network is a vital system that boosts and sustains the entire state economy. Three critical factors are simultaneously converging, any of which independently, will drive the STF into insolvency:
Ø The current revenue streams cannot keep pace with the escalating operating costs and debt service.
Ø The costs to meet system demands are significantly increasing with additional new transit service operating costs coming on line and a series of railroad and highway mega projects on the horizon.
Ø There are strong indications that federal funding is not going to support the large share of Connecticut's transportation investments as it has in the past.
Connecticut needs to develop new revenue streams just to maintain its current transportation systems in to the future. Establishing electronic tolls could be part of a combined long-term revenue stream to sustain the transportation systems Connecticut needs.
Anne Harrigan (Cheshire, Ct) - It seems overdue to implement electronic tolls in Connecticut in an effort to raise revenues to invest in our failing infrastructure. Connecticut travelers have been contributing to the upkeep of the highways and bridges in our neighboring state, now it is time for users of Connecticut highways to invest in CT infrastructure. I support legislation with the purpose of conducting studies for developing electronic tolling systems on the highways of this state.
James L. Fuda, Past President and Director – on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACECs) - Many changes are needed to make our state's economy healthy, making Connecticut an attractive place for business and our younger population both of whom are leaving the state in ever-increasing numbers. These fundamental reasons cause ACECs continued support in a continued and timely investment in transportation which is critical to advance and sustain our economy for the near and long term.
We support electronic tolling as one modern mechanism to help fund our critical and urgent transportation needs. It is an essential step towards addressing our transportation funding problems. The technological advances afforded by electronic tolling have improved the ability to tailor tolling to our individual needs and concerns. As engineers and businesses directly involved with the design, implementation and benefits of such systems in other states, we understand the value funding from electronic tolling can bring to Connecticut.
This funding source should be used and dedicated solely to improving our transportation system in a “lock box” manner.
John Harmon (West Hartford) - Our state stands out, not having any tolls on our roads, I have lived here long enough to remember why tolls were taken off but it is time to enter the 21st century and put them back. Why tolls? The short answers are fairness and revenue. I almost always fill my tank in Connecticut and pay the gas tax but that is not the case for all the out of state drivers. They should pay their share of the costs of maintenance for this vital infrastructure. The second reason is revenue – the fiscal problems of the state are not going to be solved by cutting vital services; new revenues based on actual use are going to be needed and that is what tolls are.
I know that, as a tax, tolls are regressive but a vehicle is a vehicle no matter who is driving it. Tolls in other places are, correctly, based on vehicle weight because that correlates with the damage and maintenance requirements.
I want Connecticut to remain the desirable place to live that it is and without the new revenue to repair our transportation infrastructure that goal is illusive.
Priscilla Macinnis (Madison) - Wants to go on record in support of establishing a toll system on CT highways. Respects that there will be some communities that will be affected by a change in traffic patterns, and encourage their concerns to be heard and respected (i.e. Rts 2, 6,7,8, and 15).
Michael Perry (South Windsor) - Tolls should be put back up and firmly believes that any funds coming in from the tolls have to be used for Transportation projects and nothing else.
Suggests getting online gambling passed into law and let the 2 or maybe 3 casinos run the online sites. There is a wave of online technical jobs that are just waiting to be mined but you are not going to find those jobs if you are not looking for them or looking in the wrong places.
If the state would pass bills on both of the suggestions (1) implementation of tolls, and (2) online gambling, enough revenue would be generated for the state to help bring down some of the state deficit without raising property taxes and running business and the population to other states.
Roy A. Merritt, Jr., on behalf of The Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) –
CSCE is in full support of implementing electronic tolling systems on Connecticut's highways, and performing the necessary studies and planning for their effective implementation. Instituting electronic tolls on our highways will create a sustainable revenue stream for the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and allow future transportation projects to move forward.
THE STF is experiencing a depleting balance and future insolvency without dramatic cuts to planned capital investments and services, or identification of new funding resources for transportation.
The current funding mechanisms for the STF – primarily the gas tax and the gross receipts tax on petroleum products, have not adequately kept pace with the revenue requirements facing our deteriorating and congested transportation systems.
Connecticut has some of the oldest transportation infrastructure in the country, with major portions of our highway system constructed nearly 70 years ago and much of our railways being over 100 years old. In addition, we are a densely-populated state leading with highly-congested transportation facilities. It takes significant resources to maintain, operate, and rehabilitate our transportation systems.
Connecticut is at a crossroads. One path is to make permanent, sever cuts in transportation capital programs, dramatically reduce or eliminate services and maintenance programs, and allow our transportation systems to further deteriorate and become more congested. A better path, which CSCE supports, is to develop new revenue streams for the STF such as electronic tolling in order to fully fund the critical projects, services, and maintenance programs necessary to make our transportation systems “First-in-Class”. A firs-class transportation network will benefit Connecticut's economy, improve our quality of life, and make the state more attractive to businesses and employers.
Keith R. Brothers – Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer of the Connecticut Laborers' District Council - (Represents nearly 5,000 laborers and support staff throughout Connecticut) - Action must be taken early this year to devote new revenues to transportation even as the legislature considers longer-term solutions such as tolls and authorities. Without such immediate measures there will be significant reductions in the capital and operating programs of the CTDOT.
The Connecticut Laborers' District Council especially supports sections 11 and 12 of this bill that accelerates the scheduled transfer of the sales and use taxes on motor vehicles to the Special Transportation Fund. The immediate acceleration of this transfer of revenue is necessary to reverse the service reductions and project deferments that are ongoing at CTDOT. This bill would provide the state with a short term funding mechanism to rebuild CT's crumbling infrastructure and would help to fix the current revenue shortfalls with the Special Transportation Fund. If new revenue streams are not created soon, the existing financial resources sustaining the state's transportation system will be unable to keep pace with our mounting transportation needs.
The deferment of the above-mentioned projects will result in the loss of thousands of jobs in the near future, as well as, many more thousands in the unforeseeable future. Our concern is for the devastating effect this will have with the vibrancy of our economy and significant loss of jobs.
Maria Leclerc, Chair – Capitol Region Council of Governments on behalf of Lyle Wray, Executive Director CRCOG – CROG believes that the funding challenges have three time horizons: immediate needs for Fiscal Year 2019; medium term needs in the next five years as the general term for bonding for transportation projects peak; and longer term needs in the 10-15 year range when the gas tax revenue is expected to shrink at an increasing rate and other replacement revenues will need to be found.
CROG strongly urges the Administration and General Assembly to find a solution to the STF funding challenges for Fiscal Year 2019 before adjournment in May 2018. We recognize that medium and longer term funding issues may not be addressed during this short legislative session.
For this legislative session, we believe that the goal should be to develop sufficient revenue to meet these key objectives:
Ø Maintain current transportation operations
Ø Maintain current transit service levels
Ø Carry out the planned capital program for Fiscal Year 2019
Ø Sustain the LOTCIP with uninterrupted funding municipalities in our regions, and
Ø Restore a second payment on Town Aid Road funding
Given the relatively small amount required for Fiscal Year 2019 (estimated $60 million) the revenue changes could be relatively modest in the current budget year. Supported options include:
Ø Advancing the new car sales tax transfer to the general fund (this alone could meet the targeted amount)
Ø Gas tax increase, and
Ø Road tolling
Transportation investment in good repair and new capacity is critical for the economic growth of our region and the state and we prompt action to address the STF shortfall as soon as possible.
Joseph Comerford, Executive Director, Estuary Transit District – Public transportation is a critical component of our statewide network. Forty two million trips are provided on our state's bus system each year, the majority of which are for employment. It is imperative to both bus customers and the statewide economy that bus service is maintained at the current level.
HB 5391 provides both short and long term solutions to the current funding crisis. While much of the talk has been focused on tolls, it is important to remember that tolls are a longer term solution. Any fix involving tolls must include a short term solution, like this bill does with the moving of sales tax on vehicles beginning July 1, 2018.
Douglas C. Holcomb, AICP, General Greater Bridgeport Transit – In addition to being in support of transportation related recommendations of the Connecticut Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth (new car sales tax, gas tax increase and tolling) most especially in support of Sections 11 and 12 of HB 5391.
There is a urgent need to restore funding to the STF to prevent service cuts and fare increases, which will occur this summer.
While the debate on the long-term fixes for the STF continues, these sections of the bill appear to prevent bus service cuts and fare increases and allow for the preservation of the systems we have spent decades building and upon which so many have come to depend.
While there is insufficient funding to meet the transportation needs of the state, bus service reductions have already been made; more and deeper cuts are on the way, along with fare increases. Our communities depend heavily on these services. Action is urgently needed. It is essential that the STF be funded at a level that (at least) maintains current services.
Please lend your support to our services, our riders, businesses, institutions and communities by supporting Sections 11 and 12 of this bill, which move funding into the STF effective July 1, 2018 to meet the immediate needs of services like ours.
Tim Petit, Bristol - Raising money through tolls seems like a logical position to take. However, our government has not shown that it is capable of managing its affairs. The proposed tolls will not raise enough to make a difference, the state will eventually siphon the funds off for some other purposes and then we the citizens will continue to be caught in the cycle of increased cost of living and decreased services.
John Linderman (Glastonbury) - As a taxpayer of Connecticut I detest paying tolls in other states and not having corresponding tolls collected in Connecticut. The consequence is I pay tolls to support the infrastructure of other states' roads and bridges while out-of-state travelers coming through Connecticut get a free ride off me. Reasons for Tolls In Connecticut:
Ø CT needs the money
Ø The White House plans a large expenditure on highways without adequate funding which is expected to come from the States
Ø Our roads and bridges in Connecticut are in drastic need of attention
Ø From what I read 30% of the toll money collected will be paid by out-of-state travelers and trucks. Other than federally supported programs, we can't do any better
Ø Electronic tolls do not pose safety problems, and operate as cash cows.
In what is supposed to be a hi-tech state, how far behind does Connecticut have to fall before it comes to its senses and installs up-to-date toll technology as a source of income like our neighboring states?
Josephine Cavallaro (North Haven) - If you put tolls in Connecticut, I believe they should only be for those traveling in and out of our state. It is not necessary to have tolls put in the cities and towns. Residents of the state who must travel daily or occasionally should be given a toll free pass on their vehicle because they already pay taxes and are already being taxed enough.
Elizabeth Fisk Barisser, Artistic Director Brass City Ballet (Woodbury) – I am in favor of implementing tolls on the CT Interstate highways as described in House Bill 5391
Guy Iodice – Tolls should be placed at the new York and mass borders only … returning the favor of their tolls on us!
Paula Bacolini, Glastonbury – I have traveled extensively throughout the state to both visit family in NY City and Long Island. I moved to CT because I knew that the roads would be cleared well when it snowed and I would feel safe traveling.
Forty percent of all CT traffic is from out of state travelers and CT should benefit from the tolls they pay to use and maintain our roads. Connecticut residents all use our roads, whether they drive or are passengers. We need to pay for solid infrastructure to keep our roads and bridges in excellent condition. In addition to keeping us safe on good quality roads, jobs will be maintained, and we won't lose construction workers to other states
John Tinker, Middletown – I am so tired of paying tolls to other states while we let thousands of vehicles drive through out state for free. We must have tolls to pay for toad/bridge improvements, etc. Connecticut residents could be exempted or given a discount like Massachusetts does. And with the overhead tolls you drive under, they pose no inconvenience to drivers.
Patricia DeRenzo (Wallingford) - I believe adding tolls to our state's major highways at borders will boost income that will support the maintenance, repairs, etc. of our state roads and bridges. I am all for the introduction of tolls but only if the monies produced from them are used primarily for the mentioned above purposes.
Nancy Ellman (Guilford) – Connecticut is in desperate need of funding to fix our infrastructure. We are also a major through-way for traffic along the coast. We need to make people who use the roads contribute more to their up keep.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Senator Michael A. McLachlan – Our residents are already one of the highest taxed citizens in the United States, and tolls would just be another tax they would have to pay in addition to the income, sales and gas taxes.
The establishment of The Connecticut Transportation Authority would create a quasi-public state agency that would be in charge of construction, maintaining, and operating electronic tolls on our highways. They would also be in charge of the rate for the tolls, which could be dynamic toll rates. This would allow state bureaucrats that are not elected or held accountable to tax payers, the ability to decide tolling operations and price rates in the state.
According to the Department of Transportation, in order for the state to even break even or make a profit, toll rates must be between 10 cents and 20 cents per mile. If this was to pass, Connecticut would not only have one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, but they would also have one of the highest toll rates.
It is evident that tolls would just be an additional tax to the residents of Connecticut who are taxed enough and this would add to the financial burden that many of our families are facing.
HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE – Very vocal in their opposition to tolls. They believe that it would be yet another tax on the already overtaxed citizens of our state. Concerned with how any tolling scheme would be implemented and what it would actually cost our state and its residents. Before they could consider supporting tolls, concerns need to be addressed and they would expect a plan which would contain most –if not all – of the following components:
Ø Dollar-for-dollar reduction in the gas tax
Ø A comprehensive plan for tolls
Ø Taxpayer funding of inefficient mass transit and administrative costs reduced.
Ø A cap placed on project spending
Ø A commitment to regain control of DOT
Ø An airtight lock box adopted.
Senator John A. Kissel - Strongly opposed to the proposal of tolls. There are many unknowns about the installation of tolls and how this would impact our daily commute.
Some would argue that we need to toll the out of state residents, according to a Department of Transportation study 75% of the people paying for the tolls would be Connecticut residents like you and me.
We must examine ways to fund transportation without asking more from state taxpayers who are already taxed too much.
Senator Heather Somers - All we have are unknowns about the installation of tolls and how this would impact our daily commutes. We don't know which roads they will be on or how much they will ultimately cost per mile.
Dynamic pricing that is presented in many proposals will also make it challenging for families to properly budget for tolls as some will be looking at paying the state thousands of dollars per year, just in tolls. To me this is unacceptable – our residents face one of the largest tax burdens in the entire country, they should not have to shoulder more - I cannot support tolls, another tax on Connecticut residents, when other proposals could obtain similar objectives without another tax.
Samuel S. Gold, AICP, Executive Director, Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments - RiverCOG believes it is premature to create an authority for the implementation of tolls or to authorize CTDOT to collect tolls. The General Assembly should first decide to again implement tolls on Connecticut highways before committing to a specific entity to collect tolls.
Ø Has there been an analysis of why a new authority would be desirable over the empowerment of CTDOT to collect tolls?
Ø Why would legislation require the use of a private operator for the toll system so early in the process?
Ø What would prevent an authority from collecting tolls in an efficient and competitive manner?
Ø The structures of the Connecticut Transportation Authority and Connecticut Governor?
Ø Since tolls are akin to a taxes and spending of tolls akin to appropriations, shouldn't the General Assembly have more of a role?
Ø Federal law gives municipal chief elected officials a seat at the table when making decisions on federally funded projects. Why not give municipalities who are affected by the tolled highways a voice over tolls, toll operations, and toll financed projects?
Ø How will loss of federal aid affect Connecticut's economy as residents and businesses continue to pay federal gas taxes and pay tolls?
Ø How much out of state revenue would tolls bring to Connecticut?
Ø What will the role of the state's Councils of Governments be after tolls are implemented?
Ø Will the CTDOT still own Connecticut's tolled highways, how will ownership be transferred to the transportation authority?
Ø If ownership is transferred, could a toll authority sell or lease the state highway to a private entity?
Ø Why do these bills not give the authorities eminent domain powers?
Ø Will the authority contract with CTDOT for condemnation?
River COG looks forward to being a partner with the General Assembly and CTDOT as we move forward in the study and debate over tolls in Connecticut.
David McGuire, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU) - The implication of all tolling bills have serious privacy issues. All these bills must include privacy provisions to be followed should an electronic tolling system be established and implemented.
Ø Prohibit, with some exceptions, the sharing or sale of toll customer information and exempt toll customer information from the Freedom of Information Act except under specific circumstances. It would prohibit using or sharing captured plate data for purposes other than the DOT's operation of the electronic tolling system and prohibit preserving the data for more than forty-eight hours, unless there is a request by law enforcement to preserve the data for longer.
Ø Allow law enforcement to have access to toll customer information in certain situations, including when there is a missing person report. It would require the DOT to preserve data when a law enforcement officer swears under oath to a statement demonstrating a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed or that a person is believed to be missing, and that such captured plate data is relevant and material to the criminal or missing persons investigation described in the sworn statement.
Ø Allow a law enforcement agency to obtain toll customer data by warrant.
Ø Require the DOT notify a customer ten days prior to the release of their date in response to compulsory process.
The ACLU would be happy to work with the committee on language for the additional privacy protections. They further encourage the committee to make the aforementioned changes to the bills to protect the privacy of those traveling in Connecticut.
Clark Barrineau, Director of Membership and Operations – Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates – A grassroots group formed to educate the public about the negative impacts of tolling and advocate against public policy that would toll existing interstates. They believe:
Ø Any lawmaker concerned with fiscal responsibility and social equity will reject tolls in Connecticut
Ø Tolls cause major safety issues for adjacent, secondary roadways
Ø Tolls waste taxpayer funds
Ø Tolls put power and money in the hands of contractors and corporations, not taxpayers
Ø Placing tolls on existing interstates will cause traffic diversion, hurt everyday drivers, and waste taxpayers dollars, and
Ø Any effort to make tolling easier is an effort to hurt Connecticut's future.
Mark & Virginia Harger, Shelton CT - Feels additional tolls would be a financial burden that would limit commerce within the state, negatively affecting the cost of delivering goods and services and ultimately affecting the State's already weak economy. They also are opposed to any proposal to increase railroad fares and to create a Transportation Authority that would not be accountable to voters in our state.
Carol Platt Liebau, President of Yankee Institute – Opposes tolls in the strongest terms. Tolls are user fees and – in theory – user fees can make more sense than other kinds of taxes, tolls should be an absolute non-starter in Connecticut.
Cost would be borne by those who travel the farthest to work. The Brookings Institution noted, proximity to employment has fallen more for the poor and minorities than for anyone else.
Tolls would not be cheap – could add $240 to a working person's monthly budget.
How do those who support tolls justify asking for even one cent more of our money when state government has been such a poor steward of what we have already given it.
Even if we were inclined to favor tolls – which we do not – this legislation contemplates a regime under which unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats would have the power to set toll rates – in other words, to tax the people of Connecticut. In fact, this bill would have toll rate-setting explicitly protected from oversight by any elected official.
That is nothing more than taxation without representation. Our nation's founders had some very strong views on that subject – and Yankee Institute shares them. Such a regime reeks of contempt for the democratic process. It's an overt attempt to take people's money, tucked out of sight and shrouded from accountability. It cannot be condemned strongly enough.
Lorraine Dunn-Laranetto (Bridgewater) – We don't need more taxation or tolls in Connecticut. Please cut the Connecticut government bloated spending plans and let's get back to an affordable CT.
John Pepper, Cheshire – No tolls. Stop taxing and start pinching pennies.
Harry Fisher – (Greenwich): Connecticut has the 10th highest administrative costs for road and bridge construction – an appalling statistic. For a long time the legislature has raided transportation funds to pay for other priorities. Now instead of reducing those so – called priorities, it wants to tax us more. Yes, tolls are a tax. When will our legislators wake up that taxes are ruining our state? People and businesses are leaving.
If the intention is to capture that revenue, then we only need tolls placed in the center of the state to catch them as they traverse. Why spend millions on multiple locations?
The most important point is why should the citizens of Connecticut approve giving the government more money in the form of new taxes when it has done such a poor job with all the taxes it collects now?
Southwest Connecticut is fed up with Hartford attacking our livelihood and wallets. Time to stop!
Garrett Johns – Stop the spending, stop the additional taxes, stop the tolls.
J. Crawford (Madison) – This state is so hard on its citizens, many and most working people have to drive to their workplace as there are no large companies in our shoreline towns.
Many seniors have to drive to doctors and hospitals and this is another hardship
Cut the spending instead of taxing the people to death. Is it any wonder why people are fleeing the state.
Have the tolls be for commercial truckers who come through our state, but pay no taxes, and oftentimes are the cause of many accidents. Why burden the already overtaxed residents of this state. No Tolls.
Connie Fassuliotis (Old Greenwich) – I do not support putting tolls back on Connecticut highways.
Karen Fassuliotis (Greenwich) – Enough with the new taxes. No new tolls.
J. Benedict (Stratford) – Firmly against tolls – stop taxing us.
James Boisvert (Cheshire) – Tolls are not the answer to Connecticut woes. We already get $200 million from the federal government for not having tolls and another $40 million for interstate trucking. That is roughly a quarter billion dollars coming in already were installing tolls we'd have to recoup that to start from scratch. On top of that would be the cost of installing the tolling mechanism and the bureaucracy that would be needed to collect the revenue from tolls. Collecting tolls from out of state drivers who might not have an EZ pass or just plain ignore a toll paper notice sent via USPS would be difficult and cost prohibitive. The DOT estimates the amount of out of state drivers to be about 25% so most of the toll burden would be on Connecticut drivers.
Businesses that would want to move into Connecticut would have to determine if this is a detriment to coming here and to some businesses this would be the straw that broke the camel's back, leaving the state for less-taxes as many have already done. I believe this is just a bad idea all around making Connecticut even less desirable to business than it already is with the high tax rate.
Bill Hillman (Bethel) – Strongly opposed to establishing any mechanism leading to the imposition of tolls in Connecticut.
We are severely taxed already and Connecticut does not have a lack of tax problem. It has a disaster of a spending problem, which will not be solved by imposition of a most regressive tax. Worse yet, the notion of “congestion pricing” amounts to extortion in rush hour for those disproportionally impacted commuters who have no control over when their employer says when to arrive at work.
Tolls will be an ever increasing burden, given the proposals to turn over control to unelected agencies. In the end, this will drain and suck the life out of an already critical patient called the State of Connecticut.
No to “quasi-public” rubberstamp agencies.
No to tolls.
Dr. Susan O'Malley (Madison) – As Ct residents, we pay tax to buy the car, tax to own the car and if this bill passes will pay tax to drive the car.You can call it whatever you want, but this is a mileage tax.
Eileen M. Pate, Esq (Greenwich) – Vehemently oppose installing tolls on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. I remember having tolls on both roads and do not want to go back in time for many reasons:
Ø Local people would shoulder the burden of paying the taxes
Ø More traffic on local roads
Ø Tax collected would be pilfered for uses unrelated to the maintenance of the roads as was done previously.
How about reducing expenditures and thereby balancing our budget.
Jesse Burnham, Lives in Ashford but employed in Orange - Commute daily is 73 miles one way, 6 days a week and sometimes 7 days. If tolls were installed on our highways I would be greatly impacted because daily I drive 142 miles ( 84, 91 and 95). I strongly believe that I do my part to stimulate the economy by having 3 cars in just 5 years of employment, but gallons of oil, filters, brake pads, rotors, and pay mechanics to fix more complicated issues. Then the gas tax I've paid out. There has to be a way to spend less and not install tolls on Connecticut roads.
Lynne McMahon (Cheshire) – You are making it virtually impossible for the average person to live in Connecticut. Consider the senior citizens, myself included, who have worked all of our lives to retire and should be able spend time with our grandchildren and/or elderly parents who need help. Instead we are wondering how we can afford to live here. We are taxed and fee'd to death and now you want to impose another fee on us to travel around the state? Adding tolls is an unfair way to punish those people who have lived in Connecticut all of their lives and wish to stay close to family.
Higher taxes and proposed new taxes are NOT the answer.
Michael J. Lonergan – This is just another tax CT cannot afford and it will have a negative side effect on many of the families in Connecticut and on the smaller towns that would see much heavier road use. To penalize folks because they happen to live a greater distance from where they work is senseless.
Connecticut already taxes just about everything, and there is significant funds coming in from the gas taxes to cover road expenses that is being misspent to cover other expenses.
CT does not have a revenue issue. It has a spending issue. Tighten the belt should not mean breaking the tax payer/it should mean cutting the waste from the budget and no longer paying for things that are already government overreach.
Voting no is the right thing to do for the taxpayer.
Lorraine Haase – We already rank with the top five most highly-taxed states in the country. Please do not impose any more financial burden on us than we already have.
A. DePascale – In that there is no definitive plan for toll locations or cost, voting yes seems very foolish. I do not believe that tolls should again be placed on Connecticut roads and highways.
John Chew (Greenwich) - No to tolls in Connecticut -.Taxed to death.
Nancy & P.G. Arakelian (New Canaan) – While a bond issue might be a possibility we are opposed to the higher and additional tax provisions of any kind, especially tolls. Residents cannot be expected to pay more than we are now and those who visit us, pass through or who might consider locating a home or business here will be similarly discouraged and turn away. We sympathize with the budget predicament but higher/new taxes is not the answer. We must consider ways to fund transportation without asking more from Connecticut's taxpayers.
Janet Acampora – While putting tolls back onto Connecticut highways has its merits, trying to move the process forward without detailed plans being fully vetted and open to the public for discussion is not acceptable. This should not amount to another major tax for working families who are already struggling to get by in this state (by putting a large number of tolls on each highway). About 50% of my family alone has already had to move away because of the economy in this state, and I could not afford to have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in tolls to commute back and forth to my job (about 40 minutes and 2 highways each way). I don't believe that my family matters to those making this decision, but maybe we should.
Michael Vitale, Sr. – No tolls for Connecticut. Make every registered vehicle pay a tax just like the one for the parks which shouldn't be there. Parks aren't roads.
Andrew Roberts (Meriden) – Instead of a whole new infrastructure to collect a toll tax, equipment, people, construction - wouldn't it be cheaper to raise an existing tax?
Robert Fiore (Milford) – If you want to being tolls back to Connecticut they must be on every side of the state as you enter, and Connecticut residents must receive a discount. We pay enough in property and automobile and gas tax already.
I further oppose peak and off-peak tolls. The group of people you are hurting are the people who must commute during prime time. Please just calculate a flat rate similar to the original system. Vehicles with two, three, four, six, eight, ten, twelve or more axels will all pay a different flat amount of their toll.
In addition work on Route 8 should be completed and made an interstate and have every weigh station in Connecticut opened no less than twelve hours a day, six days a week and alternate the one day closed every week. Also, the hours that each of the previously mentioned should alternate accordingly this way a regular pattern will not be set. They should not be opened just to look good during a terrorist threat. The bottom line is you will be keeping dangerous vehicles off the roads and bring in revenue.
Regarding the widening of Connecticut interstates, unless you can have every Connecticut interstate widened to eight lanes each and the government will cover no less than 80% of the cost then please do not bring it up again.
Joe Mosca – Opposes because:
Ø Government will only spend the money foolishly. That is how we got into $5B in debt.
Ø Tolls have proved to be dangerous in the past, just check history.
Ø If tolls are necessary then install them as they are in NY and NJ so that traffic moves along.
Melanie Finn-Scofield – Has concerns regarding the toll system as well as the studies that have not yet been conducted regarding the impact.
First concern is that the commissioner of Transportation still needs to conduct studies pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act for the purposes of developing electronic tolling systems on the highways of this state, and (2) procure a project manager and other consultants or experts as needed to assist in the development of such electronic tolling systems. The wording of this bill suggests that such studies have yet to be conducted, and the experts not yet consulted. However, the Governor's bill indicates that the tolling system has nearly been decided, barring official voting measures. It seems incredibly irresponsible of our state to engage in such a large project as the tolling system, that will affect millions of residents each day, without the impartial studies and opinions of experts that would be necessary to provide a clear impact of such a measure. Until the full environmental, economic, social and traffic impacts are made clear to the public, no voting should occur on the tolling system.
Still further, concerned with the prospect of tolls on Connecticut's major roadways. Connecticut's residents already pay dearly for use of our roadways through the gas taxes, which are among the highest in the nation. Adding tolls to that cost is an unreasonable burden on those who commute even modest distances.
If tolls were designed to mostly affect interstate travelers could be supportive. Understands the plan includes not just major interstates, but also routes that are contained within our borders. This will increase the burden placed on smaller roadways that are not covered under the tolls, which then falls on the towns to maintain and improve with the additional traffic. Rather than look for additional sources of income that will only burden Connecticut residents and towns, the state should consider how better to manage the significant funds already provided.
Peter “P.J.” Prunty, President, Greater Danbry Chamber of Commerce – The chamber doesn't believe that increasing taxes and implementing tolls are the best ways to jump-start Connecticut's economy. For decades, increasing state revenue alone has not solved Connecticut's fiscal problems.
Imposing tolls and another big tax increase undoubtedly will pump more money into the Special Transportation Fund, but will it solve the problem or be one more roadblock to recovery by increasing the costs of living and doing business? Sound fiscal policy for both government and businesses demands examining both spending and revenues.
How we spend our transportation infrastructure money is questionable. Why according to some studies are our administrative costs about $83,000 per mile when the national average is $10,000. Why do we spend about $480,000 per road mile versus a national average of $160,000/ Does Connecticut drive up the cost of projects through various laws and regulations that don't necessarily increase quality?
Until a serious examination is made of how our Department of Transportation spends STF dollars, the chamber has little confidence that more money alone will reduce inefficiency and waste.
It is highly misleading to pretend that tolls will make someone else pay for our projects. The greatest burden will fall on Connecticut residents who will pay up to 70 percent of the tolls. Residents throughout the greater Danbury area will feel the pain the most. Many businesses and employees feel this would end up being a “regional tax” that would negatively impact commerce. Furthermore, the cost of living will increase since trucks deliver many of our goods and services.
The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce believes that our legislators and the Governor cannot do business as usual.
Our state has an opportunity to think outside the box to develop new and innovative revenue streams that do not simply rely on passing the burden onto the residents of Connecticut. This is where our time, energy and conversations should be spent on, instead of settling on, implementing policies that negatively impact the overall business climate of our state.
Joseph R. Sculley, President – Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, Inc (MTAC) – Has deep concerns about the immediate fiscal impacts of this bill, as well as longer term economic impact on the State of Connecticut.
Connecticut residents and businesses are being told that $4.3 billion worth of transportation projects are postponed because the Special Transportation Fund will be insolvent and that the state cannot sell bonds on Wall Street. Yet, Section 2 of this bill mandates spending more money. Affiliates of MTAC who specialize in tolling policy have provided high-level cost estimates to MTAC. They state that if an “investment grade” traffic and revenue analysis is done, that by itself is likely a 1 year, $1.2 million study. Layer on top of that a NEPA review, and that could add 6 months to a year, and at least another $1 million, on how extensive the system is that CT is considering. It's probably safe to say that a widely-rumored 70-80 toll gantries can be classified as “extensive”.
Let's not waste any more time money on this highly controversial proposal. No state has ever converted a toll-free interstate to a fully congestion-priced interstate. Connecticut wants to do it for nearly every limited access highway in the state.
Congestion Pricing Plans Not Like Other States – Congestion pricing exists on interstates in other states because a new, express lane was built. Only the new lane(s) are tolled. Drivers have an option whether to use the toll lanes or stay on the toll-free lanes when the tolls get too high. Connecticut wants to congestion price toll all existing interstate lanes, which is something that no state has ever done before.
Revenue Can Be Diverted - Motorists Used As Piggy Bank – Claims that toll revenue cannot be diverted from the highway are not true. CTDOT already spends an unsustainable 62% of its operating budget (which is funded by highway users) on transit subsidies. Highway users currently get next to nothing for the taxes and fees they pay, and this proposal is adding insult to injury. Section 10 of the bill requires notification when Special Transportation Fund resources exceed 2.5 times estimate debt service payments for transportation. This is again another signal that the State would continue to tax cars and trucks and spend the money on transit services from which the motorist draw no benefit. There is nothing to prevent the state from bonding at will for transit services and making highway users pay for it. If spending 62% of DOT operating budget on transit is not enough, how high should that ratio go? 70% 90%.?
Lack of Public Input – Section 6 calls for “one public information meeting in the general vicinity of the proposed toll location.” There have been estimates for 70-80 toll gantries across all highways in the state. Where would this ONE public information meeting be?
Exhorbitant Penalties – Section 9 allows penalties of “one hundred dollars for each violation ….” Could a driver who goes from the NY border to New Haven, who hits 12 toll gantries but never receives the bill, be charged penalties of $100 X 12 for $1,200?
Can't Have Tolls Like Other States – Toll supporters point to the fact that surrounding states have tolls, so Connecticut can too. The fact is that federal law currently prohibits Connecticut from installing fixed-rate tolls on our highways. The Mass Pike was built with tolls, The tolls were not installed on the highway decades after the fact. All that the Mass Pike did was simply swap toll booths for electronic tolls. That is why the Mass Pike has fixed-rate tolls, which CT cannot implement on its highways.
MTAC appreciates the passion of toll supporters, but strongly disagrees with them. Congestion price tolling existing lanes is highly controversial. That is why no state has ever done what Ct is trying to do in the 27 years that federal law has in theory allowed it.
Reported by: Mary Anderson
Date: April 4, 2018