Tolls – The Half-A-Billion Dollar Tax

February 23, 2018

By: Senator John A. Kissel

With a new legislative session comes the revival of old proposals that didn’t win critical support in previous years. While there are some good ideas that deserve another look, the proposal to bring back tolls is not one of them in my opinion.

At this stage there are many unknowns about how tolls will impact our daily commutes, but one thing we do know is that it will amount to a roughly half-a-billion dollar tax on Connecticut residents.

Many talk about the two largest tax increases that Governor Malloy and legislative Democrats put in place – but where is the concern about the proposed toll tax? Without a doubt this would be one of the largest singular tax proposals in Connecticut’s history.

Did you know that Governor Malloy is not just talking about border tolls? In-fact Connecticut cannot even implement border tolls without losing federal money and having to pay back the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars for decades of funding we received because we didn’t have tolls. This means tolls on all Connecticut highways including 91, 95, 84, Route 2, Route 8, Route 9 and the Merritt Parkway. Perhaps even other roads are being considered.

It gets worse – because we can’t have border tolls rough estimates show toll rates must be between 10 cents and 20 cents per mile in order to break even or make a “profit”. These toll rate estimates are significantly more than the highest rates in the entire country. Multiply this for your daily commute – say you travel 25 miles from home to work and do the same commute home – that is an extra 200 dollars a month out of your paycheck!

Now consider you have two commuters, which many families do, who travel roughly 25 miles from home to work and make the same commute back home. With two commuters traveling to work, that is an extra $4,800 per year in taxes just to get to work and put food on the table.

Now many of my constituents say to me, “Senator, haven’t you seen all those Massachusetts plates driving down 91, we need to charge them for using our highways”, and while I do see our neighbors from the North traveling on our highways – according to a Department of Transportation study 75 percent of the people paying for the tolls would be Connecticut residents like you and me.

The Republican Prioritize Progress transportation funding plan prioritizes funding for roads, bridges and rail. Today Prioritize Progress would allow us to provide an immediate and stable funding source dedicated just for transportation. Over 30 years, with projected federal matching dollars, it would provide $64 billion for critical transportation infrastructure projects.

I hope that once folks learn the details and the cost of the tolls tax they will oppose them as well.