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The Connecticut Office of Policy and Management released an analysis revealing that funding has been diverted from the General Fund to support the Special Transportation Fund in nearly every state budget since 2003.
According to a notice from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office, the money transferred from the General Fund should have been used for purposes such as municipal aid, education and nonprofits. The Special Transportation Fund, which supports Connecticut’s transportation system and is fed primarily by the fuel tax, is expected to become insolvent in the coming years. In Connecticut, the excise tax rate is 25 cents per gallon for gasoline and 46.5 cents per gallon for diesel.
Since 2003, a total of $3.7 billion has been shifted from the General Fund to the Special Transportation Fund. Over the same period, only $152 million has been moved from the Special Transportation Fund to the General Fund. The last such transfer occurred in fiscal 2014.
“The Special Transportation Fund has been supported by revenues that have been, and will continue to be, insufficient over the past decade and beyond. If we don’t take action, this is a trend we know will continue in the future,” said Max Reiss, spokesman for the governor. “Previous Connecticut governors used the General Fund and revenues meant to support municipal aid, education and nonprofits to pay for transportation infrastructure. This practice robbed social service providers of needed funds and shortchanged our communities.”
Lamont has proposed different fundraising mechanisms to boost infrastructure revenue for his transportation plan, which has faced substantial challenges since he was elected in 2018. The latest iteration of the transportation investment plan, released in early December, called for a trucks-only tolling system.
In a Dec. 6 letter to lawmakers, the governor outlined his plan for commercial truck tolls on 12 bridges carrying some important routes, such as state routes 8 and 15 as well as interstates 84, 95, 395 and 684.
This proposal is projected to finance $19.4 billion for infrastructure investment. Rates would vary based on location and truck type.
Lamont’s letter was delivered just a few weeks after lawmakers in the House of Representatives put forth a plan suggesting trucks-only tolls. An earlier version of the transportation plan proposed “user fees” for cars and trucks.
Motor Transport Association of Connecticut President Joe Sculley has staunchly opposed tolls. Connecticut’s neighbor, Rhode Island, has a trucks-only tolling program that has stoked the ire of the trucking community.
Not sustainable. pic.twitter.com/BCMRMKB0bj— Joe Sculley (@JRS_CT) January 21, 2020
Reiss said the Office of Policy and Management’s analysis “refutes a myth” that a sound transportation policy won’t fix the Special Transportation Fund’s solvency problems and modernize the state’s infrastructure system.
“These numbers and this data show what the truth is, and that truth is the reality that Connecticut has neglected its transportation infrastructure for decades, which led funding intended for other services to bail out the transportation fund for nearly two decades,” Reiss said. “Opponents to responsible transportation investment must face the facts and not parse numbers to fuel a misinformation campaign.”
Connecticut’s infrastructure earned an overall C- on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ most recent infrastructure report card, which came out in October 2018.
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