The Senate unanimously gave final approval late Thursday to a measure that would widen the definition of human trafficking and toughen the penalties for trafficking and related crimes. The chamber also adopted a measure to prevent state transportation officials from even researching the concept of a mileage tax.
A political football in state transportation debates for the past two years — the concept of a mileage-based tax on motorists — apparently is no longer even a subject of research at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
There has been quite a lot of coverage lately about Connecticut’s interest in a mileage tax. Most of it focuses on how bad a mileage tax would be for the state. I agree, it would. People in Connecticut just can’t take on one more tax, and on top of that, a mileage tax raises too many privacy issues. But I don’t think that’s what the real story is. The story is really about trust, transparency, and inappropriate use of scarce resources.
The group studying how to fund a 30-year transportation improvement program in Connecticut knows there are few options – if any – that won’t spark controversy. But the state’s Transportation Finance Panel watched that challenge expand significantly after its research became the focal point of an intensifying partisan battle among state legislative leaders.
Television and published reports have recently covered the talks going on in Hartford about ways to fund Gov. Dannel Malloy’s $100 billion, 30-year transportation infrastructure plan. These include discussion of a plan to tax motorists according to the number of miles they drive. Before this plan is even considered, I have a radical idea: tally up every nickel that has been diverted from the Transportation Fund over the past 20 years — by BOTH PARTIES — along with what social programs or agencies were the recipient of those diverted funds. Then, every nickel of those diverted funds should be clawed back from their budgets and re-deposited into the Transportation Fund and used for the intended purpose of transportation infrastructure maintenance.