Skip to comments.Coalition Urges Malloy, Foley To Consider Taxes, Tolls to Raise Transportation Money
Posted on 08/20/2014 12:08:04 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
HARTFORD - A broad coalition of environmental, economic, regional and construction groups urged Connecticut's gubernatorial candidates Tuesday to conduct a debate focused on transportation issues, and to consider higher taxes and tolls to pay for the state's dire transportation needs.
The activists put out a four-point program they said the state's next governor must consider, and expressed concern about the possibility that massive federal funding for highways and mass transit might dry up in the next few years.
The coalition's key issues are:
Making certain that state revenue that is supposed to be devoted to transportation - such as gas and fuel taxes isn't diverted to ease other state fiscal problems.
Ensuring that existing state transportation funding already allocated for specific projects be used as rapidly as possible to get those projects done.
Creating state contingency plans for alternate ways to pay for transportation improvements in the event that federal funding is cut back.
Making critical, long-range decisions about which areas of the transportation system need to be improved to have the greatest economic and environmental impacts.
"As far as I know, this is the broadest-based group of transportation advocates I've seen in Connecticut," Karen Burnaska, a spokeswoman for Transit for Connecticut, said during the coalition's news conference at Hartford's Union Station.
Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, warned that it would be "very dangerous" for Connecticut leaders to assume that this state will continue to receive federal transportation funding at the same level as recent years. He said there are serious efforts to cut congressional transportation aid for the states.
The call for consideration of tax increases to pay for badly needed transportation improvements isn't likely to make either major party candidate in this year's gubernatorial election very pleased. But the activists at Tuesday's news conference said they at least want the top candidates to start thinking about how much money will be needed.
Incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, have both already ruled out any state tax increases as an option if they are elected in November.
As for tolls, Malloy rejected a proposal for so-called "border tolls" in January 2013, and Foley has said he would only consider tolls as a tool to help reduce traffic congestion.
Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said tax increases and/or tolls may be the only way to pay for the billions of dollars in transportation infrastructure improvements that this state desperately needs.
"I don't see any other options out there that are viable," Shubert said.
Surveys by the Quinnipiac University Poll have shown that Connecticut taxpayers would be willing to pay higher taxes if they could be assured the money would be used effectively to improve highway gridlock and upgrade mass transit, said Roger Reynolds, a spokesman for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.
Wray said the last four years under Malloy's regime has seen "a lot of progress" in terms of mass transit programs. But he added that, because of the age and deterioration of Connecticut's rail and highways systems, "we have a lot more work to do."
A key point in the coalition's agenda is for the state to stop siphoning off money from the state fund that supposed to be dedicated for transportation needs. Activists said that, since 2005, an estimated $1.2 billion in state motor fuel taxes has been diverted from the transportation fund to pay for other state government expenses and to help solve state budget deficits.
The coalition also plans to contact the gubernatorial candidates in hopes of arranging a campaign debate focused on transportation, members of the group said.
Awwww your income tax is not working for you?
Bad things happened when they de-tolled I-95? No way, really?
so glad I left that state
One big reason why tolls are so popular in the Northeast is that the states are very small, and a disproportionate amount of the motorists driving on the major roads are from other states. These are ideal targets for any politician looking to raise revenue without facing the wrath of voters.
Except for state “turnpikes” that pre-date the Eisenhower system, no interstate should be tolled.
You mark my words ... At some point in the future tolls on interstates are going to become the norm rather than the exception. The good news is that it’s also going to become so ingrained in our culture that the users are going to be fine with it.
That’s good news?
I didn’t say that. There’s no value judgment (positive or negative) attached to my statement. It just is.
>> The good news is that its also going to become so ingrained in our culture that the users are going to be fine with it.You declared it "good news" that "At some point in the future tolls on interstates are going to become the norm rather than the exception".
Theres no value judgment (positive or negative) attached to my statement.
Are you retracting that statement?
At some point in the future tolls on interstates are going to become the norm rather than the exception.
As far as the public receptivity of it, I'd say: Yes, it's good news. The reason for this is that this means people are more willing to treat their use of public infrastructure the way they treat their purchase of anything else.
Now if only we could get public schools to operate the same way, we'd be in great shape as a country. Don't you agree?
Not at all.
>> At some point in the future tolls on interstates are going to become the norm rather than the exception.
That is unacceptable.
Here's what's also going to change, though:
The interstates will provide value to their users that other roads simply won't have. Imagine a limited-access highway system where the speed limits are much higher, for example. Would you be willing to pay a premium to use that?
Just think about it for a moment. It's really no different than paying extra for high-speed internet service, or for extra voice/data/streaming capacity in a wireless phone, isn't it?
No. Get it yet?
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