On Wednesday, we learned just how dire the state’s budget situation is. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered $33.5 million in immediate cuts, and added that he wanted to use the state’s entire $235 budget reserve fund to balance the current budget without having to borrow money.
In the face of this level of emergency, we’d have to agree with Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, who said he believes “tolls are inevitable in the state of Connecticut.”
Arguing against the possibility, Senate GOP leader Len Fasano explained how Connecticut can only pursue so-called congestion mitigation tolls, a way to manage traffic flows by charging a higher fee during the busiest drive times. The state cannot reinstate tolls on the state border without putting federal funding at risk because of an agreement it signed with federal authorities 34 years ago.
We’d like to make two points: First, President Trump has had very little difficulty overturning federal orders and agreements he doesn’t like, simply by issuing an executive order; and, second, he is championing the need for upgrading our infrastructure, one possible use for the money to be raised from tolls.
Can we afford to turn away new revenue?
“The amount of money raised in our neighboring states for their transportation projects from tolls is absolutely astounding,” Aresimowicz said. And that’s every New England state except our own.
“And,” Aresimowicz added, “here we are with the Special Transportation Fund that’s going to be broke in 2020, 2021 unless we come up with answers.”
Might not the answer be a compromise - shaping a toll program that serves the needs of the citizens of Connecticut, yet takes advantage of the fact that we are a “pass-through” state?