GOP legislative leaders ask Malloy to pull tolling study

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Two top Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to scrap a planned vote on whether to spend $10 million to study electronic highway tolls in Connecticut.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Chris Davis, sent a letter arguing how the next governor and General Assembly should decide whether to study tolls.

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, said House Republicans are collecting signatures for a petition to bring the legislature into special session if the State Bond Commission approves the funding on July 25. They said they hope that enough Democrats, who narrowly control the House, will support passing a bill that would prevent Malloy’s administration from spending money on a tolling study.

“Your proposal to spend $10 million of taxpayer money on a study of tolls without approval from the legislature is a blatant circumvention of our Democratic process,” they wrote. “It is also a complete waste of money that could be used to actually improve roads, fix bridges, and, generally, to address our transportation infrastructure needs — an undertaking that is supported by the legislature as a whole.”

Malloy, who is not seeking re-election, signed an executive order on Tuesday calling for the study. He argued it will be “invaluable” to the next administration.

Also Wednesday, Democratic State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, a member of the State Bond Commission, said he won’t vote next week to allocate the $10 million for the study.

Lembo said tolling and transportation infrastructure are important issues to discuss, but he doesn’t believe the commission should finance the study without a legislative directive. The General Assembly last session failed to vote on a tolling study.

Lembo, who is seeking another term, said the study should be up to the next governor and legislature.

Malloy chairs the 10-member commission, which includes all Democrats and appointees except for two Republicans.

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