Gov. Lamont puts truck-only tolls in Connecticut on pause
February 20, 2020
After a hard-fought battle with both Republican state lawmakers and many Connecticut residents, Gov. Ned Lamont has decided to drop his push to toll trucks.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, a visibly frustrated Lamont announced during a news conference that he is no longer seeking a truck-only toll in the Constitution State. Rather, Lamont will use bonds to pay for much needed infrastructure funding.
Lamont cites the state legislature’s inability to get the ball rolling on the toll bill as the reason for throwing in the towel.
“I was elected to this job to fix problems,” Lamont said. “Jack Kennedy once famously said ‘To govern is to choose.’ And I’ve got a legislature that doesn’t want to make a choice when it deals with the problem that we’ve had confronting this state for going on well over a generation. That’s our deteriorating roads and bridges and rail.”
During the news conference, Lamont called out both Republicans and Democrats in the state senate for not making a decision.
The governor said the votes for the truck-only toll are there and ready to go.
“If we can get people to vote,” Lamont said. “Right now the senate Democrats are worried that with 30 hours of filibuster they may not be able to get their people together. Maybe we’ll have to wait another week. Maybe we’ll have to wait a few more weeks. I think it’s time to take a pause.”
Democrats have a majority in both the House (91-60) and Senate (22-14). Despite the control, there is still uncertainty surrounding the bill. In addition to all Republicans against the truck-only tolls, enough Democrats have been hesitant to get behind the bill to make it anything but a slam dunk if voting were to occur.
One thing both sides can agree on is the need for nearly $20 billion over 10 years for infrastructure funding. Until recently, Lamont has been rallying behind a bill that would generate about $175 million a year by tolling trucks. Now, he will get about $200 million through bonding.
“I hate to do it this way,” Lamont said. “It’s bonding in place of other things that are priorities, but right now there is no other option on the table.”
Technically, the truck-only toll bill is still alive.
While lawmakers continue to kick the can down the road in terms of voting for the bill, Lamont is no longer waiting. He said he will pursue bonds while state lawmakers figure it out. Essentially, Lamont is simultaneously funding infrastructure while putting the ball back in the court of lawmakers.
“Taking money from tractor-trailer trucks, most of which come from out of state, is obviously a better solution,” Lamont said. “Lower-cost money, not all paid for by the taxpayers of this state, but they couldn’t get around to voting on it.”
Lamont campaigned on truck-only tolls. However, his first crack at a bill included tolls on both cars and trucks. Eventually, Lamont settled back with truck-only tolls on 12 bridges on six highways.