Gov. wants transportation money in a ‘lockbox’ [CT Post]

January 12, 2015

CT Post

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position seems to be evolving by the day.

On Thursday in Meriden, when asked about a Republican proposal for a constitutional amendment to protect the state transportation money from being raided for general-fund operating expenses, the Democratic governor said it would take too many years.

But on Friday, in a statement, he proposed: “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.”

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 fund.

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

“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 lockbox,” Malloy said in the statement. “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 lockbox is passed this year, in this legislative session. These are common-sense first steps in a dialogue that is long overdue.”

In the initial wake of the GOP suggestions on the amendment, majority Democrats said such voter-approved measures should be for big-picture issues, not budgetary nuts and bolts.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, who was the first to call for a constitutional amendment, had a different take.

“I am pleased that the governor and I are on the same page,” Fasano said. “I will be happy to work with the governor and legislative leaders to draft language which strengthens protections of transportation funding. 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 … These funds must be untouchable.”