The push for tolls in Connecticut is based on the false premise that a new revenue source is needed. The Special Transportation Fund (STF) needs to be returned to its original purpose of only funding upkeep of our roads and bridges.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed diversion of vehicle sales tax money away from the STF needs to be stopped. It’s absurd Lamont plans to put the STF into deficit and then he claims we need his driving TAXES. Many times since the STF was created in 1984, when the general fund was in bad shape and the STF was in good shape, expenses for state government salaries and pensions for DOT, DMV, and Public Safety were shifted to the STF by the legislature. That should be reversed. The STF needs to get back to its intended purpose – our road and bridge upkeep.
The “get those out-of-state drivers” mantra keeps getting repeated. Out-of-state vehicles driving in CT are either only 25 percent, or 30 percent, or at the most 40 percent, depending on which study results you want to use. So, you, me, and our fellow Connecticut drivers are the 75 – 60 percent who will pay the proposed driving TAXES. There is more damage done to our roads by us, Connecticut residents and drivers. The driving TAX advocates like to stir up anger among us toward those “horrible, mean, nasty, out-of-staters” because it suits their goal of manipulating public opinion. Creating an “other” group to be angry with is an age old propaganda tactic.
Out-of-state drivers also contribute to our Federal highway funds through the Federal fuel tax when they buy fuel. Our state fuel tax should be reduced so our fuel prices can achieve parity with neighboring states and those drivers will buy more Connecticut fuel with Connecticut fuel tax.
Another false premise is the “all the other states have them” myth. Not all states have them. For those that do, no state in the USA has a driving TAX gantry density like the 50 gantries proposed for our small state. No state in the USA has as high a percentage of its highways with them as proposed for Connecticut. None.
People frequently say “When I go to New York I pay tolls.” If they mean going to Manhattan, they don’t pay highway tolls, only a bridge toll. It’s apples and oranges. What is proposed for Connecticut are highway tolls. Driving in Massachusetts is sometimes used as a comparison, too. That’s another false premise.
Drive nine of the ten interstate highways in Massachusetts and you pay no highway tolls. Drive any highway or parkway in New York state other than the Thruway and pay no highway tolls. Drive I-91 from New Haven through Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont all the way to Canada and pay no highway tolls. Drive the length of the Taconic Parkway in New York and pay no highway tolls. Drive I-87 from the Albany area all the way to Canada and you’ll pay no highway tolls.
The driving TAX proposal for Connecticut needs to be opposed and defeated. It has been defeated every other time it has come up and it CAN be defeated this time.
Neil Tolhurst lives in New Hartford.
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