Share
June 10, 2021 10:15 AM, EDT

Connecticut Lawmakers Push Through New Tax on Trucks

Legislators this week in Hartford, Conn., approved a new user fee on large trucks.Legislators this week in Hartford, Conn., approved a new user fee on large trucks. (SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images)

[Ensure you have all the info you need in these unprecedented times. Subscribe now.]

The Connecticut General Assembly approved a bill that would impose a highway use fee on heavy commercial trucks.

According to the bill, a tax would be imposed on every carrier for operating an eligible vehicle on any state highway each calendar month, beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

Highway use would be determined by the number of miles traveled within the state by each eligible vehicle during each month.

During a recent press availability, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed the issue of truckers potentially bypassing Connecticut to avoid the highway user fee.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont meets with staff at the state Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on June 9.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont meets with staff at the state Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on June 9. (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant)

Rates would vary based on vehicle weight. For example, vehicles with a gross weight ranging from 26,000 to 28,000 pounds would face a rate of 2.5 cents per mile, while the rate for vehicles weighing between 78,001 and 80,000 pounds would be 10 cents per mile.

“The fee is anticipated to generate $45 million in new revenue [in fiscal 2023] and $90 million annually thereafter, increasing by inflation,” the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis stated in a fiscal note on the legislation.

RELATED: Connecticut Republicans Attack Governor's Truck-Tax Plan

Each carrier that wants to use a Connecticut highway on or after Jan. 1, 2023, must file an application for a permit with the commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services. Also, each carrier must maintain on a monthly basis a list of all the eligible motor vehicles the carrier operates on a highway in the state.

The bill includes an exemption for motor vehicles transporting milk or dairy products to or from a dairy farm that holds a license to ship milk.

Motor Transport Association of Connecticut President Joseph Sculley opposes the bill and expressed skepticism about the provision related to milk haulers.

“Those trucks operate at 100,000 pounds, while the limit for all other trucks is 80,000 pounds,” Sculley said. “This just goes to show that the truck mileage tax is not actually about damage to the roads; it’s just about money. Lighter weight trucks will be subsidizing heavier trucks that will be exempt from the tax.”

Trucking is vital in Connecticut. Some 98.4% of freight in the state is transported by truck, according to the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. It also estimates there are 62,990 trucking industry jobs in Connecticut.

During a recent press availability, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed the issue of truckers potentially bypassing Connecticut to avoid the highway user fee.

“That’s not so bad either,” Lamont said. “We’ll have a little less traffic on the road, a little less asthma for the people who live along the road and we’ll still have the resources we need to make the investments we’ve got to.”

Lamont proposed the user fee on tractor-trailers during his biennial budget address Feb. 10. The biennial budget, which takes into account fiscal 2022-2023, received legislative approval June 9.

Transportation funding has been a source of contention in Connecticut for the past couple of years. Lamont previously proposed trucks-only tolls, which he stopped pushing for in February 2020 after repeated delays from lawmakers to convene for a vote.

Sean McNally

McNally

Rhode Island maintains a trucks-only tolling system, which the industry continues to fight in court.

American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally said the highway user fee law is “ill-conceived” and truckers are evaluating whether it represents an unconstitutional tax on interstate commerce.

“Instead of equitable investment by all citizens, the politically spineless Legislature has sought to hide these taxes in the price of food, vaccines, toilet paper, gasoline, clothes and more instead of equitable fees on all road users,” McNally said. “For this bad judgment, families and businesses in Connecticut will have less service, higher prices and fewer jobs.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: