Fuming Connecticut Governor Hits “Pause” Button on Trucks-Only Tolls
Hartford, CT – Conceding he does not currently have the votes to pass a controversial trucks-only tolling initiative, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said on Wednesday he was hitting the “pause” button on the plan.
A visibly angry and frustrated Lamont held a press briefing from his office in the State Capitol on Wednesday and expressed disappointment in the General Assembly, the State Senate in particular, for failing to cobble together the votes to pass a trucks-only tolling plan projected to raise $200 million in new revenue for infrastructure improvements.
“I’ve got a legislature that doesn’t want to make a choice when it deals with a problem we’ve had confronting this state well over a generation… that’s our deteriorating roads and bridges and rail,” Lamont stated. “Neither the Republicans or the Democrats, especially in the Senate, are willing to make a choice right now. I think it is time to take a pause.”
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.
Lamont blamed Republicans for attempting to “throw sand in the gears” by threatening a 30-hour filibuster.
The threat of the filibuster came in response to Democratic House and Senate leaders’ unprecedented plan, unveiled last week, to debate and vote on two separate, but identical, bills simultaneously.
Procedurally, state law does not allow the same bill to be before the two chambers at the same time, so in order to become law, one would have to be passed by both chambers.
Republican leaders called such a political tactic “absurd” and “disgusting.”
Democratic leaders, desperate to pass the bill, admitted neither chamber 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 measure ultimately failing in the other chamber.
Lamont fumed saying he has “lost patience” after Democratic leaders once again agreed to hold a vote this week and then reneged and requested more time.
“They’ve asked for another week, another month, for let’s say six months. So, I said finally ‘enough.’”
In his 15-minute blistering rebuke of state lawmakers, Lamont expressed bewilderment as to why members were struggling to approve the plan.
“This was not that tough of a vote… getting tractor-trailers from Omaha to pay for half of our infrastructure,” he chided.
The governor now says he will move forward on his own and borrow the money from Connecticut taxpayers by rolling the expected $200 million into a bonding bill.
“I hate to do it this way. Right now, there is no other option on the table,” he conceded.
Democratic House and Senate leaders are not yet giving up hope to include the proposed trucks-only tolling system into Lamont’s 10-year, $19.4 billion infrastructure investment plan.
However, it remains unclear if Lamont’s public show of disapproval will spur Senate Democrats, who are currently sitting on the fence, to action.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow the story.