Just when you thought the issue was dead for another year, it’s not. Because, somehow, electronic tolls wormed their way into the latest budget proposal.
And the timing couldn’t be coincidental considering we’re hearing 9/11 tributes or Hurricane Irma updates today.
CT News Junkie reports that they found language in Governor Malloy’s latest compromise budget that lets him get his way. And, also, bypass the crucial entity known as legislative process.
He’d create his own quasi-public agency called the Transportation Finance Authority, which will have the power to authorize electronic tolling.
Meg Green, a spokeswoman for Malloy, explained that the Authority would essentially try to restore balance to the Special Transportation Fund.
You know, the same fund our lawmakers use as a piggy bank? Yes, that fund.
And, isn’t it funny that this proposal doesn’t explore the option of a lock box? Yeah, strange, isn’t it?
Even funnier: Malloy happened to be one of the biggest anti-toll critics. He even PROMISED he would not include tolls in the new budget. And, wow, look where we are.
Anyways, with this language, there’s also no discussion about doing away with the state gas tax or property tax on cars. You know, things our government enacted BECAUSE we don’t have tolls?
Now, raise your hand that, should this new prospective authority come into play, they’ll propose keeping those past promises. Yes, I thought so.
Anyways, our hero Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton is already making a rallying cry against this development. She told CT News Junkie, “It’s concerning that they’re trying to circumvent the legislative process.” She went on to add her concern over how tolls will hurt middle and lower class residents.
She also added the majority of Connecticut residents don’t want tolls. On top of that, the proposal died on the floor in June because it couldn’t muster enough votes.
In short, the body isn’t even cold yet and toll supporters are already trying to breathe life into it.
Such as ardent toll supporter Rep. Antonio Guerrera, who co-chairs the legislature’s Transportation Committee. He seemed more than happy about the new development:
“We are in dire need for funds for the special transportation fund. We need revenue. Unless you can tell me a better fairer way of getting revenue, this is the way to do it.”
Um, here’s a novel idea. How about lawmakers stop raiding the special transportation fund to pay for their pet projects?
It doesn’t help that Guerrera apparently sways more and more lawmakers to come into the toll side every year.
Because of this, House Majority Leader Matt Ritter made a chilling prediction:
“I think tolls are inevitable in the state of Connecticut. In five years, or eight years or one year, you will be right and people of Connecticut will support you for what you did.”
Will we now? Or, will we see another special fund treated like the pension account, where sticky fingers get inside of it all the time?
Anyways, Meg Green, a spokeswoman for Malloy, says this quasi-public entity is the way to go. The governor said the Transportation Finance Authority’s sole purpose is to make sure the Transportation Fund remains solvent. It’ll do that by, “analyzing the revenues dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund, projecting out-year revenues and expenditures, and ensuring the solvency and adequacy.”
So, if they find in their studies that tolls will magically solve everything, guess what’s coming back. Yep, you got it. They’ll say the state needs tolls and will authorize them then and there.
And do you think that’s a fair way to enact tolls? Because this sounds like a gross overstep of power to me. I mean, tolls affect everyone’s finances. Essentially, tolls are a tax of sorts.
So, shouldn’t the people of Connecticut have a say in what happens to their money?
According to Governor Malloy, he certainly doesn’t think so. Neither does Ritter or Guerrera. Because the roads are falling apart and that’s somehow our fault. So, we need to pay even more to fix them.
What do you think? Is Malloy circumventing legal process or does the state’s supposed need for tolls supersede everything?
And, should tolls come into play, should the gas and car property tax be done away with? Or, do you think this is all a clever ruse to keep them intact, as well?
What’s your prediction anyway? Will this toll talk finally fix our budget problem? Or, will it blow up in everyone’s faces?