By Associated Press - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic leaders of the Connecticut House of Representatives suggested Tuesday the governor reconsider tolling just big trucks, a concept the Democrat campaigned on during last year’s election but later discarded in favor of tolling all vehicles.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, in a joint statement, announced “tolling cars is off the table” and called on Gov. Ned Lamont to instead support truck-only tolls on 12 of the 14 bridges identified in his new 10-year, $21.3 billion CT2030 transportation improvement plan. The leaders estimate truck-only tolls could raise about $150 million annually, less than half of the revenue projected from 14 tolls on all drivers under Lamont’s latest plan.

Ritter suggested a transportation plan that includes tolls only on trucks could have a better chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. Lamont and lawmakers have been unable for months to come up with proposal that’s politically palatable to enough legislators.

“Generally speaking, if you ask the public, if you ask our caucus, would doing trucks-only (tolls) on 12 bridges be preferable to the current plans out there? I think the answer is yes,” said Ritter, who added that trucks cause 80% of the damage on Connecticut’s roads and bridges - a figure Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, called a “made up number.” Besides Lamont’s proposal, the Senate Republicans have released a transportation plan that has no tolls or other tax increases. Instead, it relies on a complicated plan to financially stabilize the state’s dedicated transportation fund by using $1.5 billion from the budget reserve account to pay down costly pension debt.

Lamont said he appreciated the House Democrats’ proposal, noting how a “guiding principal” of his plan is a dedicated revenue stream where a large part comes from out-of-state drivers. He urged Democrats and Republicans to bring their plans to a meeting in his office as soon as possible, noting “this discussion should be had with all caucuses dedicated to creating a solution.”

Tolling opponents made it clear Tuesday they’re unwilling to accept tolls of any kind.

“Lamont campaigned on truck-only tolls and then changed his mind and included all vehicles,” said Patrick Sasser, founder of No Tolls CT. “There is little reason to think the same thing wouldn’t happen again if the state began to toll trucks.”

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