Malloy: Please find $100 billion

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Governor’s special committee charged with coming up with ways to pay for his massive transportation rebuild held its first meeting Tuesday. It appears highway tolls, the gas tax, and a user’s fee are all on the table.

“I think there is a universal acceptance that we have under invested in transportation and we are running out of time to address this,” said Gov. Malloy at the start of the first meeting of this panel that must find a way to get Connecticut tax payers to fork up $100 billion additional dollars over the next 30 years.

Like many state lawmakers, some of the business and community leaders on the panel don’t see a way to do this without bringing back highway tolls.  

“Generation of $100 billion over a 30-year period is a big hill to climb, so a formula as to how to do that is required and the piece of that formula probably will include some sort of tolling,” said Paul Timpanelli, panel member and President of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

Cameron Staples, a former New Haven lawmaker who is now President of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, will be the panel’s chairman. He says shoreline residents with fearful memories of the Stratford toll booth disaster that took seven lives back in 1983 should be assured that modern toll technology would make the process much safer.

“They have nothing to be concerned about in terms of safety hazards,” said Staples. “I don’t think there’s anything we would bring back or recommend bringing back that would bring back toll booths the way they were 30 years ago.”

There is already a bit of a consensus at the Capitol that the gas tax, which will be under review, is not going to cut it because as cars and trucks continue to get better millage, reliance on the per gallon tax just won’t work. Some other way to tax motorists will have to be found.

“Are there ways we can actually have vehicles contribute to the cost other than through the gas tax?” said Staples. “Are there other mechanisms to have all users contribute some sort of ‘user’s fee?'”

The committee will hold its first public hearing, a forum to hear from you about all this, on June 23 at a New Haven location to be announced.

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