State Senate Republicans pitch no-tax-or-toll transport plan

Published on Sunday, 17 November 2019 18:25
Written by Catherine Shen

@cshenNBH

HARTFORD - An alternative transportation plan that does not rely on tolls or new taxes was unveiled by Connecticut Senate Republicans on Thursday.

During a press conference held at the State Capitol, officials presented a proposal called Fiscal Accountability and Sustainable Transportation Reform CT, also known as FASTR CT, as an alternative plan to Gov. Ned Lamont’s CT2030 plan, which is a 10-year, $21.1 billion scaled-down proposal that focuses on fixing major chokepoints on Connecticut’s highways and speeding up commuter rail travel times. It will be funded with mostly borrowing and 14 new bridge tolls.

FASTR CT is a plan that will invest in transportation, adopt responsible fiscal policies and establish accountability without asking for more from overburdened taxpayers, according to the proposal.

State Sen. Gennaro Bizzarro, who represents Berlin, Farmington, and New Britain, has endorsed the new investment plan.

“When I was elected as state senator for the 6th District, I vowed to do everything in my power to act as a firewall to try to stop tolls,” said Bizzarro. “We are already overtaxed in this state. FASTR CT is a no tolls, no tax hike alternative to transportation investment which reduces our long-term pension liabilities. This plan is a thoughtful, long-term solution, and I wholeheartedly endorse it.”

There is a need to improve the state’s transportation system but Senate Republicans disagree that tolls need to be a part of the solution, said Len Fasano, senate Republican leader. He also pointed out that while they recognize the hard work that went into Lamont’s plan, an alternative plan was created because they simply cannot support tolls.

“We just can’t do it. It’s a trust in government thing that we know they’re never going away, that they have to go up in cost and the tolls are not going to be temporary. We know the tolls have to be up until at least 2057, and I would argue that it’ll go even further,” he said, stating that the inevitability of increasing toll rates due to inflation will become an issue.

The Republican’s plan will invest $18 billion in transportation, including roads and rail, between now and 2030. It leverages federal low interest loans and creates accountability and a vetting process for all transportations projects. According to the proposal, it allows for cash financing, cuts back on state borrowing that would be $3 billion less than Lamont’s plan, eliminates all state Special Tax Obligation bonds for transportation by 2022, stabilizes the Special Transportation Fund, and utilizes tax revenue people have already overpaid to the state to invest in unfunded pension liabilities, creating savings that can be put towards other funds.

Because the plan takes money from the rainy day fund, Fasano addressed concerns raised that it could hurt the state if there is a recession. “This is not a raid on the budget reserve fund,” he said. “ A raid on the budget reserve fund is when you use it to pay off one-time expenses. When you use it to pay off liabilities and reduce your cash flow, that’s prudent fiscal realities of what you do with money.”

The senate leader said he has met with the Governor’s Office and the idea is to put this plan out there for discussion.

“We want them to look at it, see there’s an alternative plan, and then we can have further discussions from there. It’s just an alternative that we think we need if we’re against tolls, that we need to place forward an alternative that works and makes sense,” he said.

For more information, visit www.ctsenaterepublicans.com

Contact Catherine Shen at 860-801-5093 or cshen@centralctcommunications.com



Posted in The Bristol Press, on Sunday, 17 November 2019 18:25. Updated: Sunday, 17 November 2019 18:28.