December Column: Tolls and Tansportation

November 26, 2019

By State Senator Rob Sampson

Governor Lamont’s announced recently that he will be holding public hearings on his new CT2030 transportation plan.  Somewhat amazingly, he still includes plans for fourteen new toll gantries across Connecticut.  The Governor has dug himself a huge hole and is now quadrupling down on breaking his campaign promise not to toll cars on Connecticut highways.

Has he not heard? CT residents vocally oppose tolls.  There have been phone calls, emails, and letters flooding the capitol.  Grassroots organizations like have collected petitions with tens of thousands of signatures.  Every Republican in the legislature has vowed to vote against tolls.  Legislative Democrats have huge majorities in both the House and Senate but clearly are not interested in taking such a toxic vote.  Still, the Governor keeps digging and apparently won’t stop until he sees daylight.

Of course, the Governor will claim that our roads and bridges are in dire need as the reason for spending another $21 billion of your money.  He will argue that those opposed have offered no alternatives and that we are not concerned with fixing our transportation infrastructure.  This is simply not true.

Anyone who follows me knows that I don’t tow any party lines or engage in typical politician nonsense. If this was a good idea, I would say so.  However, it’s clear to me that the purpose of the plan to install tolls to placate the Democrat’s labor and business constituencies, and not because the Governor is looking out for us.

Here are some facts every taxpayer should know.

1) The state of Connecticut is not broke.  It takes in more money every year than the year before.  It just spends more also.

2) There are plenty of places to cut spending.  Consider the $500+ million we are spending to bail out the city of Hartford, $1.14 billion on illegal immigration, $45 million per year on the XL Center, or brass statues and splash pads in New Haven, etc.

3) We can afford to fix our roads and bridges without new sources of revenue. The amount of money dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund would have been enough to give us state-of-the-art roads and bridges, but legislative Democrats repeatedly siphoned it off or “diverted” it to the general fund to expand government.

4) The states that surround us do not charge anywhere near the same gas tax as Connecticut, yet there are no plans to reduce the gas tax if tolls are installed.

5) Tolls cannot be installed only on our borders since that is against federal law.

6) It will take at least three years to install tolls before they generate any positive revenue, while costing tens of millions of dollars in planning, construction, and bureaucracy.

7) Once tolls are installed, we will only get a fraction of every dollar back since a significant amount of money will be lost in management, maintenance, collection of tolls, etc.

8) States that have electronic tolls have great difficulty collecting them from out-of-state residents since there is no mechanism to penalize drivers from other states unless there is a reciprocity agreement in place.  This would have to be negotiated and would ultimately cost Connecticut taxpayer dollars to enforce other states’ tolls.

9) Tolls will add costs to every product sold in our state, affecting the poorest citizens and those on fixed incomes.

10) There is no such thing as a “secure” lockbox since the legislature makes this policy and can therefore modify it at any time.

The bottom line is that the state does not need any additional revenue, not for roads and bridges, or for anything else.  The state government must adapt to current tax revenues and no more.  Every state around us is managing with far less taxes per citizen. We can too.