State Senate President Martin Looney says he sees no way around implementing tolls as a revenue source if the state if serious about funding the governor’s bold 30-year, $100 billion plan to ease traffic congestion, repair aging, crumbling infrastructure, and modernize the commuter rail system. Looney tells The Hanging Shad that tolls are not the entire answer but likely will have to be a part of the solution.
“If we’re going to be serious about fixing the state’s infrastructure, I don’t see how tolls can be avoided,” Looney said. “The gas tax that is designed to fund transportation projects is flat and fluctuates [in the revenue brings in]. Tolls wouldn’t be the entire answer but some of it,” he said.
With a different emphasis, Gov. Malloy’s budget chief Ben Barnes told a legislative committee Wednesday that it would be a mistake to rely too heavily on tolls although he admitted governor’s plan has to be paid for somehow. “I don’t believe that, economically, it makes sense to put all of our eggs in the basket of tolling and I don’t know that we have the ability to implement that,” Barnes told the legislature’s Transportation Committee as reported by CTNewsJunkie.com. Barnes says installing tolls could put federal transportation at risk.
State Rep. Tony Guerrera, co-chair of the Transportation Committee left no doubt where he stands on the issue. “I’m going to tell you this: I am not going to allow the people of this state to take the burden on their back when 75 percent of them are traveling through this state and not paying for it. That is dead wrong. And we have to look at that,” he said.