Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R- North Haven, called an impromptu press conference Monday to demand Democratic leaders in the senate and the governor’s office show their hand about whether they have the votes to pass a transportation bill that includes tolls on trucks.
“They need to stop pretending they can pull a deal off because they can’t,” Fasano said. “Its been talked about forever and we are no step closer to resolving this issue to the detriment of businesses and the state of Connecticut. … They had their shot. They tried the best they could. They can’t get there.”
Gov. Ned Lamont’s push to get the General Assembly’s approval for tolls began last January, but has failed to be called for a vote since then. When the legislative session ended last spring, the administration aimed to generate support over the summer and bring it across the finish line during the fall, after municipal elections. That goal has been pushed back month after month, and the administration is now aiming for a vote before the legislative session begins Feb. 5.
But that window is closing. No vote is scheduled this week and legislators have not been told to reserve a date to come in for a vote.
Fasano says that’s because the votes are not there.
“You are running out of time,” said Fasano. “We all know the truth: these guys are never going to do tolls in regular session.”
Last week, Senate Democrats met privately to discuss whether they had enough votes to approve tolls. Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said at the time that members of his caucus had a significant list of questions and conditions that must be addressed before he can assure the 18 votes necessary for passage in the Senate.
“We have a contingent consensus of 18 members who have not rejected the concept of a bill to toll trucks on bridges only,” Looney said.
On Monday, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats said nothing has changed.
“When Senator Looney said the Senate Democratic caucus had a contingent consensus of 18 votes on a transportation plan with tolling only on large trucks with four axels or more, he meant it. We would appreciate if Senator Fasano would stick to leading his 14 member caucus,” said Kevin Coughlin.
Lamont told reporters following an unrelated press conference in Derby that he believes those issues have been taken care of.
“We’ve taken care of those issues,” he said. “What I really want is the legislature to vote. And If its not this week, I really hope it’s next week. This is an issue that has festered for many, many years. It’s time for us to fix our transportation system. … We have given the legislature a draft of the bill that meets all of our requirements. They’vge agreed to the basic parameters of it. Now it’s up to them to finalize the final drafting of that and get it to their members as soon as possible.”
Lamont said his staff is working with legislative leaders to get a vote scheduled.