Fasano: Transportation funds “must be untouchable” [Courant]

January 12, 2015

Hartford Courant

Governor Dannel P. Malloy plans to propose both a constitutional amendment as well as a statutory change to protect the Special Transportation Fund, ensuring dollars from that fund are spent only for transportation purposes.

Sen. Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he was glad to hear that.

“I am pleased that the governor and I are on the same page,” Fasano said, in a prepared statement.

Malloy said in a prepared statement Friday that “the proposed statutory change would take effect this year and, unlike current law, would clarify and protect taxpayer dollars going both into and out of the Special Transportation Fund.”

“Neither the statutory change or the constitutional amendment will include any ‘escape clause,’ such as an override option for the General Assembly or Governor,” the statement said.

“I will submit language to the General Assembly for consideration that changes state law, so we can immediately make clear there will be no future diversions from the Special Transportation Fund or its revenue sources as we move through the process to pass a constitutional lock box,” Governor Malloy said. “We must make sure every penny we raise for transportation goes toward our vision to transform Connecticut – now and in the future. That means we must ensure a working lock box is passed this year, in this legislative session. These are commonsense first steps in a dialogue that is long overdue.”

Malloy said he would release specific language for both proposals soon.

Fasano said he would work with Malloy to draft language that was strong, clear, and enforceable.

“As Republicans have previously emphasized, a state constitutional amendment is necessary to protect these funds. The constitutional amendment needs to be clear and enforceable – unlike our constitutional cap on state spending. There can be no wiggle room,” he said. “The people of Connecticut are already skeptical about their state government, its inability to live within its means and honor its promises. These funds must be untouchable.”

State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield and Trumbull, said he thinks the lockbox legislation should be put on the fast track. “I am encouraged Governor Malloy has recognized the sense of urgency to update our state’s transportation infrastructure, by presenting his proposal in support of a constitutional ‘lock box’ amendment. It’s imperative that any proposal protect, in absolute terms, the Special Transportation Fund, and that every dollar is invested in our transportation infrastructure,” Senator Hwang said. “This is something I have recommended in the past, and it will be something I will gladly support now.”