Politicians Plan “Disgusting” Tactic to Pass Controversial Trucks-Only Tolls
Hartford, CT – Connecticut Democratic lawmakers are considering using a political tactic never tried before in the state’s history to pass a bill calling for tolls on commercial trucks.
After failing so far to pass Governor Ned Lamont’s contentious 10-year, $19.4 billion infrastructure investment plan, some Democratic lawmakers want both chambers of the state’s General Assembly, the House and Senate, to vote on the measure simultaneously.
The plan, known as CT2030, calls for a “high-speed gantry” trucks-only tolling system to be constructed along a dozen Connecticut highway bridges.
Tractor-trailers would be charged tolls as high as $12.80.
Proponents say the controversial plan will raise as much as $200 million for infrastructure improvements.
Democrats, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, held a press conference last week and indicated they were confident they each had the votes to pass the bill in their respective chambers.
However, neither wanted to go first for fear of putting its members in jeopardy of going on the record in favor of the plan, and then the plan failing in the other chamber.
“It is the intent to bring it up at the same time,” Aresimowicz revealed.
Procedurally, state law does not allow the same bill to be before the two chambers at the same time.
So, Aresimowicz and Looney have concocted a tactic which calls for each chamber to simultaneously debate and vote on two separate, but identical bills.
Then, in order to become law, one would have to be passed by both chambers.
“Only one chamber would have to vote twice,” Looney added.
Such a political tactic would be unprecedented in the state’s history and Republicans, who strongly oppose trucks-only tolling, blasted the idea as “absurd” and “disgusting.”
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano sounded off about the plan at a press conference last week.
“Think about the silliness of this — foot dragging until one chamber catches up to the other?” he said. “If that doesn’t speak volumes in this building, then nothing else does. That’s just silly. It’s lunacy. It’s absurd. It’s laughable.”
Joining in the criticism was House Minority Leader Themis Klarides.
“You wonder why the public doesn’t trust government, they don’t even trust themselves,” Klarides chided.
Still, the measure could finally be brought to a vote on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
Opponents are warning that once Democrats pass the bill and gantries are constructed, it will only be a matter of time before the General Assembly will approve tolling of non-commercial vehicles.
Advocates of CT2030 say such assertions are scare tactics.
However, adding fuel to these fears is the fact Gov. Lamont’s original plan, introduced early last year, included tolling of passenger vehicles at more than 50 locations on Interstates 84, 91 and 94.
It was projected to raise as much as $800 million annually.
Lawmakers refused to bring it to a vote.
So, the ambitious tolling plan was then scrapped and stripped down to only include heavy commercial vehicles before it was re-introduced late last year.
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