AASHTO Journal

Gov. Malloy Outlines Proposal to Stabilize Connecticut’s Transportation Fund

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed increasing motor fuel taxes, levying highway tolls and taking other steps to bolster the state's Special Transportation Fund and make new investments in the transportation system.

His announcement said that if lawmakers pass the revenue-raising measures, "implementation of the administration's plan for the STF would restore canceled state and municipal projects across Connecticut, and would prevent drastic increases in rail and bus fares and major service reductions on Metro-North, Shore Line East and CTtransit bus services."

On Jan. 10, Malloy and the state Department of Transportation had indefinitely suspended $4.3 billion in planned projects across the state, and said the administration would soon unveil a plan to raise new funds.

However, the Hartford Courant reported that political experts said Malloy will face an uphill climb to get legislators to approve major tax increases in an election year.

conndot.jpgDespite the timing, Malloy said that "investment in transportation is investment in Connecticut's economic future. But for decades, our state has chronically underfunded our roads, bridges, tunnels, and rails, and as a result our infrastructure consistently ranks among the worst in the nation."

He added: "Without new revenues this year, we face a transportation cliff. We will be forced to make draconian cutbacks, affecting even routine maintenance. If we want to revitalize our urban centers and attract the jobs of tomorrow, we absolutely must ensure the solvency of the Special Transportation Fund, and we must do it early in this legislative session. We can no longer afford to wait – it's time for action."

CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker said the governor's proposed combination of immediate and long-term revenue "represents a solution to maintaining our commitment to operate a safe highway, bus and rail transportation network and to avoid serious deterioration of our state and municipal transportation infrastructure."

For the upcoming fiscal year, he said, the additional revenue the plan would bring "will relieve bus and rail riders of the potential for massive impacts to fares and service. Overall, the implementation of a growing, predictable income stream to the fund will enable the effective planning and delivery of the quality transportation system that Connecticut's economy depends on."

Malloy proposed increasing the motor fuel tax by seven cents a gallon over four years, starting with a two-cent increase on July 1.

His announcement put that proposal in context, noting that in 1997 Connecticut cut its gas tax reduced 39 cents a gallon to 25 cents, and has not raised it since.

"Over the same period," his announcement said, "rail fares have increased by 54 percent and bus fares have increased by 75 percent. And while Connecticut has refused to increase transportation revenue, 26 states – including eight in the past year – have increased their gas taxes. This isn't limited to 'blue' states; it includes GOP-dominated states like South Carolina and Tennessee," and a 2016 action by New Jersey's former GOP Gov. Chris Christie to sign 23-cent increase in the gas tax.

In his detailed proposal, Malloy also called for statewide electronic highway tolling to start in fiscal 2023, which he projected would raise $600 million to $800 million a year. CT Mirror reported that Malloy and Redeker estimate about 30 percent of the toll receipts would come from out-of-state traffic.

He estimated the gas tax increases would generate $105 million a year once fully implemented in 2022. He called for imposing a fee on tire sales of $3 each to bring in $8 million a year, and urged legislators to speed up by two years a scheduled transfer of car sales taxes from the general fund into transportation – a diversion that would grow to nearly $79 million in 2021.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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