HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — While there are no new taxes in the state budget, state lawmakers did pass a ‘highway use fee’ that was kept separate from the budget. The new fee could soon be applied to large trucks traveling on state roads and highways.
The House passed the bill Tuesday night, and it went straight to the Senate, where it passed early Wednesday morning.
The bill passed the House 88-59, while the Senate passed it 22-14.
“This revenue allows us to fix our roads and bridges and get this state moving again,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
The measure establishes a series of fees back on mileage and truck size. It’s expected to generate about $90 million annually, which will be used for road and bridge repairs.
“This small fee on large tractor-trailers, that are 20,000 times the amount of damage than a passenger vehicle, is a responsible way to address part of that crisis,” said State Rep. Roland Lemar, a Democrat representing New Haven and East Haven.
Opponents say the cost will get passed on to consumers.
Republican lawmakers have pushed back, saying Governor Lamont can’t sign this. They worry this won’t just impact the trucking industry, but consumers as well.
“I think it’s going to raise costs on food. I think it’s going to raise costs on heating oil, clothing, gasoline,” explained State Rep. Devin Carney, a Republican on the Transportation Committee. “I think it’s a trickle-down tax that’s very regressive.”
Following the House vote Tuesday, the President of Motor Transport Association of Connecticut Joe Sculley released a statement:
The House of Representatives passed the truck mileage tax tonight, but not before voting to exempt the heaviest trucks on the road – dairy trucks – from paying the tax. Those trucks operate at 100,000 pounds, while the limit for all other trucks is 80,000 pounds. This just goes to show that the truck mileage tax is not actually about damage to the roads, it’s just about money. Lighter-weight trucks will be subsidizing heavier trucks that will be exempt from the tax.
Proponents think that all they have to do is compare miles reported under the interstate agreement known as IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) against miles reported under this new mileage tax. They don’t realize that 1.) out-of-state trucking companies report their IFTA miles to their base state, and that Connecticut does not have access to those records, and 2.) IFTA includes single-unit trucks, which this tax does not. Connecticut cannot do apples to oranges comparison for purposes of enforcing this new tax.
Connecticut is never going to see the money predicted for this bill, and this tax scheme will fail.”
Proponents said this proposal is key for projects now and long term. If signed by the governor, it will go into effect in January 2023.