ByState Reps. John Scott, Mike France, Kathleen McCarty, Aundré Bumgardner and Doug Dubitsky |
Yesterday, the legislature voted to implement a “transportation lock box” to presumably protect funding to repair and replace our state’s crumbling roads, rails and bridges that we travel daily. While this sounds like a noble idea, we of the Southeastern Connecticut delegation – and many of our colleagues – saw the serious flaws in this bill that compelled us to vote against it.
Television and published reports have recently covered the talks going on in Hartford about ways to fund Gov. Dannel Malloy’s $100 billion, 30-year transportation infrastructure plan. These include discussion of a plan to tax motorists according to the number of miles they drive. Before this plan is even considered, I have a radical idea: tally up every nickel that has been diverted from the Transportation Fund over the past 20 years — by BOTH PARTIES — along with what social programs or agencies were the recipient of those diverted funds. Then, every nickel of those diverted funds should be clawed back from their budgets and re-deposited into the Transportation Fund and used for the intended purpose of transportation infrastructure maintenance.
The Connecticut legislature is considering a bill (HB 6818) that would order the transportation commissioner to establish a toll-collection system on the state’s major highways at its borders. The bill would also set up “safeguards to ensure that any toll revenue is deposited in the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and used only for transportation purposes.” Witnesses — many from the state’s border communities — submitted testimony in opposition to the idea. A few were in favor. Here is an excerpted sampling of both. The full list of witnesses and their written testimony can be found here.
As state legislators, my colleagues and I are charged with two basic tasks – forming sound public policy, and finding a way to pay for such policies in a responsible manner. Our continuing fiscal crisis, however, has once again caused good public policy to suffer at the expense of funding our government’s unsustainable spending habits.