Conn. Gov. Lamont Gives Up On Truck Tolls After Voting Is Postponed Again

By WCBS Newsradio 880

GREENWICH, Conn. (WCBS 880) -- Highway tolls may not be coming back to Connecticut after Gov. Ned Lamont gave up on Senate Democrats ever voting on truck tolls Wednesday.

The vote had been tentatively planned for Thursday, but Lamont said the Senate informed him that it once again needed more time.

"I've got a Legislature that doesn't want to make a choice," Lamont said at a news conference. "I think it's time to take a pause."

Tolls on trucks had been projected to raise approximately $200 million annually. Lamont said he now plans to generate that money instead of using state borrowing in order to help finance the $19 billion for his 2030 transportation improvement plan.

"Is it the best way to fund it? No. Is it a 100 percent paid for by the tax payers of Connecticut, yes," Lamont said.Senate Democratic leaders released a statement before Lamont spoke, and insisted that they still could deliver on a financing plan that relies on truck tolls if Lamont and the House Democratic majority gives them another five days.

"We are still confident that Senate Democrats have the votes to pass a comprehensive transportation plan which includes 12 toll gantries on 18-wheeler trucks only. We are prepared to hold a session next week to vote on a bill to make the necessary transportation investments for Connecticut’s economic development, residents, and businesses,” said Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff in a joint statement.

Republicans though, are latching onto Lamont's words. After promising a 30 hour filibuster, they now say they hope Lamont learned a lesson in pushing unpopular measures, WCBS 880' Steve Burns reported. 

Last year, Connecticut borrowed nearly $800 million for highway, bridge and rail upgrades. They issued special tax obligation bonds and notes to be repaid from the Special Transportation Fund.

The $800 million was complemented by $750 million in matching federal grants. Even with those funds, work would fall short of the $2 billion annual target DOT officials have set.