Why We Don’t Need Tolls to Make Transportation a Priority

August 6, 2018

Op-Ed as it Appeared in the Record Journal on August 3, 2018


By Senators Len Fasano & Len Suzio


The Record Journal’s latest editorial ignores the Republican transportation funding plan that has been repeatedly rejected by toll-hungry Democrats [Connecticut’s lawmakers need to stop ducking toll issue, 8/2/18].

Despite the fact that the paper has written about this plan before, the editorial forgets its existence.

Instead, the paper accuses Republicans of opposing tolls without offering solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Republicans have a solution to boost investment in infrastructure to make Connecticut more economically competitive. It involves no tax increase and no tolls and would generate over $70 billion for transportation over 30 years. But Democrat lawmakers have rejected our solution year after year.

The Republican solution is called “Prioritize Progress.” It is a transportation funding plan Connecticut Republicans first developed in early 2015 as a way to reprioritize how we utilize current state resources to dedicate more funding to transportation needs. It’s actually already proving effective to address the state’s short-term transportation needs, and if we implement this plan fully, it will also be a solution for our state’s long-term future.

Here’s how the plan works. First, fully implemented it operates within the state’s new bond cap, so it borrows no more than allowed under the cap therefore helping the state reduce future debt. Second, it protects bonding for core needs such as school construction and clean water, at the same time it reduces bonding for excessive wants. And third, instead of using bonding for pet projects and political handouts, it redirects those investments toward transportation needs.

The result? Annually, Prioritize Progress would boost state funding for transportation by hundreds of millions of dollars. This is far more funding than Rhode Island’s new trucks-only tolls are estimated to generate and significantly more than the state has ever directed toward transportation ever before. Pair the new state investment with current state funding for transportation and estimated federal funding, and the result is over $2 billion annually in funding for transportation throughout Connecticut.

Prioritize Progress is a real solution with real numbers that would create stable, dependable funding for transportation infrastructure. In fact, a portion of this plan was included in the most recent bipartisan budget and as a result the state was able to increase transportation funding to $1 billion annually over the next two years – more than ever before. We did this all without a single toll or tax increase. This was only a taste of what could be done if Prioritize Progress were fully implemented.

Unfortunately, instead of having a conversation about rolling out this plan fully and extending it into future years as it was designed, the governor and legislative Democrats continue to set their sights on tolls, now putting $10 million on the state’s credit card to study tolls yet again, and ignore other viable solutions.

The truth is we do not need tolls to make transportation a priority. Republicans have had a plan for years to invest historic amounts in infrastructure without pickpocketing taxpayers. But instead of considering this solution, Democrats continue to ask for more of taxpayers when they can least afford it.

– Len Fasano & Len Suzio

Sen. Fasano (R-34) serves as Senate Republican President Pro Tempore. Sen. Suzio (R-13) serves as vice chair of the transportation committee.