GOP legislators want added hearing on how to pay for transportation fixes [Journal Inquirer]

September 1, 2015

Two Senate Republicans have urged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Transportation Funding Panel to hold another public hearing before reporting its recommendations to the governor and the legislature sometime this fall.

Senate Minority Leader Leonard Fasano of North Haven and Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton, ranking Republican on the Transportation Committee, said the panel should hold a second public hearing out of “fairness and for the sake of transparency”. The letter, sent to panel Chairman Cameron Staples, was in response to comments Staples made during an interview with the Journal Inquirer this month. The panel held a hearing in June, and Staples said he doesn’t think it will hold a second one prior to issuing its recommendations on how to fund Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion package of transportation upgrades.

Fasano and Boucher, though, said the panel “will be considering many transportation funding issues in the coming weeks,” including the possibility of implementing tolls or new taxes to generate revenue.

“To not hold a hearing on the proposed solutions is to decide the issue in the dark,” the lawmakers’ letter also said. “If this is the result, then one needs to question why you even bothered to hold your one and only hearing. Why not just get together over dinner and make a decision yourselves.”

Devon Puglia, a Malloy spokesman, on Wednesday called the letter “ironic” because Boucher never responded when the panel invited her to speak at a previous meeting.

Fasano, though, did address the panel in May, when he and Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington, presented a Republican proposal to reduce borrowing for other projects to free up $37.4-billion in bonding for transportation.

Puglia said Wednesday that the plan relied on “slashing money for classrooms and children,” and characterized the Republican letter as a political ploy.

“Nonetheless, the panel is doing serious work, about serious issues, and you’d hope folks would be focused on finding real solutions instead of doing the same old partisan stunts,” he said in a statement.