The Governor and his highway toll advocates have been preaching across Connecticut that we need tolls to pay for improvements in State infrastructure due to alleged decreasing gasoline consumption. The Governor argues we must have tolls or a big increase in gas taxes or the Special Transportation Fund will go bust.
Is it true that decreasing fuel taxes caused by decreased gas consumption are about to precipitate a Transportation Fund crisis?
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Anyone researching this can find CT annual motor fuels consumption on the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) website. The truth is the annual volume of gasoline consumed in Connecticut has INCREASED nearly 50 million gallons from FYE 2013 through FYE 2017. Alternative fuels and diesel annual consumption have also gone up by millions of gallons per year also, according to the last four years of DRS summaries. Revenue generated via the fuels tax goes to the Special Transportation Fund (STF). So, contrary to the Governor’s claim, gas tax collections are not declining because of decreased consumption. Quite the opposite is true; gas consumption is up, not down in Connecticut.
So, if decreased gas consumption is not causing a financial crisis is our Transportation Fund really in danger of running out of money?
Sadly, the answer is yes if the public allows the Governor to implement his out-of-control $100 billion spending plan (think of the “Magic Busway”).
The Governor plans on a 500 percent increase in transportation spending compared to when he entered office in 2011. We all can attest our need to address necessary infrastructure improvements, but do we really need to spend that much and so fast? Given Connecticut’s current financial crisis, that kind of increase is ridiculously ambitious and worst yet, it’s not just for one or two years. It’s every year for the next 30 years!
When Gov. Malloy came into office in 2011, Connecticut spent about $280 million per year plus another $750 million of Federal funding on DOT capital project programs. This year in 2018, Gov. Malloy wants to spend $1.4 billion of Connecticut money, plus about $700 million in Federal money on DOT capital projects.
In other words, Gov. Malloy believes that Connecticut taxpayers can afford a 500 percent increase in state funded DOT spending in 2018, compared to the 2011 spending levels. Looking beyond the next two years is an even bigger increase in spending!
If there will be a STF funding crisis in Connecticut, it will be due to the unbelievable increase in spending planned by the Governor.
Can we redevelop Connecticut’s transportation structure without tolls, or worse yet, a 14 cent per gallon tax increase which the Governor also has proposed?
In May 2017, Connecticut Senate Republicans unveiled a Special Transportation Budget that did not require ANY tolls to support the expansion of spending needed to catch up on maintenance and repair of Connecticut’s interstate highways. That proves we can improve our transportation system without tolls or a big gas tax increase.
Lou Arata is a retired sales professional now residing in Meriden.