The legislature, by a narrow margin, decided to take a serious look at the idea of tolls. “It’s a really bad time to add one more tax to an already over-taxed population in Connecticut,” says Boucher.
“The idea is to reduce the states gas tax by half of one penny for each of the next five years…that totals’ about two cents…which is minuscule,” explains Boucher, pointing to the fact that there are no assurances the money generated from tolls won’t be used for other purposes, as opposed to being solely tagged toward the transportation budget.
Dunaway brings up the “hundreds of millions of dollars” the State received in the tobacco settlement that was to go toward smoking cessation. “What they did was put a billboard up on I-84,” says Dunaway, “while the rest of the money went into a general fund.”
“That’s the problem,” agrees Boucher, noting the $150 million from the general fund that is already supposed to go to the transportation fund. However, since the state has been in a constant deficit since 2008, the general fund is “always raided.”
“The gas tax that’s supposed to pay for bridges and tolls ends up paying for pensions and State troopers,” says Ray.
“There’s an assessment from our electric bill that supposed to go toward clean energy,” says Boucher, “but again, because of Connecticut’s deficit, that money is put into other areas, such as the department of social services or the department of children and families.”
“It doesn’t look as if it will go pass the general Senate or the House,” concludes Dunaway, “so we’ll see.”