Last week Governor Lamont, realizing he doesn’t have the votes, offered a compromise to Republicans in an effort to sway some over to the ‘Tolls are good for CT camp’.
The deal: support tolls and he’ll reduce the lowest income tax bracket from 3 percent to 2 percent, as reported by the Journal Inquirer. This will help offset the impact to low income commuters.
The Republicans response, by Senate Minority Leader Leonard Fasano: “We don’t support tolls. Period.” This sums up the latest on CT Tolls so now let’s look at the impact.
What would the toll cost a CT low income commuter, or any CT commuter for that matter?
Using the latest toll rate of 4.4 cents/mile, a trip from Hartford to New Haven (39 miles) would cost $3.34 round trip. Assuming two weeks of vacation that amounts to $836 annually ($3.34 times 5 days a week times 50 working weeks).
Now let’s examine the tax bracket drop from 3% to 2%? That tax bracket covers an income range of $0 to $10,000 (married it’s $0 to $20,000). A single worker earning $10,000 would no longer pay $300 in taxes but $200. Very kind until you remember the Governor just gave that single worker a new toll tax of $836!
Let’s not believe the story ends there. After all, the state loses about $100 million (see the Journal Inquirer article) annually due to the income tax reduction. What do you think the chances are that the 4.4 cents per mile creeps higher to compensate? Pretty high if you ask me.
The good news…. THE GOVERNOR DOESN’T HAVE THE VOTES TO PASS TOLL LEGISLATION.
You still must act or that might change.
Below I re-iterate my toll alternatives and encourage you to call your legislature. Don’t think, “why call when someone else will.” Hogwash. That “someone else” speaks for themselves. You must call to voice your concerns. No one else can do that for you. CALL (see details below).
When will common sense prevail in our legislature to solve this with resolve and efficiency?
Yes, Connecticut has a crumbling road network problem. There are 3 ways to solve it:
- Use bonding. Take out specific bonds to solve specific repair and growth needs. This enables us to fix the roads without incurring an annual tax of $1 billion FOREVER.
- Increase the gas tax. For this to work we must ensure new receipts go into the ‘lockbox’ just for transportation use. This method is very efficient since the infrastructure already exists. No need for $372 million toll gantries and no need for a $100 million annual toll department bureaucracy. Yes this is a regressive tax, but, that’s no different than toll booths and at least it’s A LOT more efficient. The red herring to justify bypassing the gasoline tax is spurious at best: gasoline tax is flat and likely declining so we need tolls. Gasoline taxation encourages public transportation use and eco-friendly vehicles. As electric vehicle use increases we can always institute a charging station use tax. We can also directly tax electric vehicles; after all, DMV knows every single electric or hybrid vehicle in the state.
- Live within our means. Currently Connecticut’s annual operating budget is $40.5 billion. Many families awake to the reality of their financial problems and cut expenses, Connecticut can do the same thing. If we need $1 billion a year to fix the roads then institute an across the board 2.5% budget cut and require that savings go to transportation. Problem solved. Corporate board rooms and families make the needed cuts, why can’t our legislature?
Any option is preferred over tolls although I prefer the 3rd option.
So what can you do?
The same thing I did and the same thing WWW.NOTOLLSCT.ORG encourages….
Second, call your State Senator and Representative using the phone numbers below. Urge them to reject tolls in Connecticut.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS (800) 842-1902
HOUSE REPUBLICANS (800) 842-1423
SENATE DEMOCRATS (800) 842-1420
SENATE REPUBLICANS (860) 842-1421
Call them! Call them each day and then again on Tuesday. Tell them you oppose tolling in Connecticut. Leave your name, number and address so they know you’re serious.