A broad coalition of environmental, economic, regional and construction groups urged Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates Tuesday to debate and consider higher taxes and tolls to pay for the state’s dire transportation needs.
The activists put out a four-point program they said the state’s next governor must consider, including the possibility that massive federal funding for highways and mass transit may dry up in the next few years.
Other items on the coalition’s list include a demand that state revenue that is supposed to be devoted to transportation – such as gas and fuel taxes – not be diverted to ease other state fiscal problems; and using existing state transportation funding as rapidly as possible.
Incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, have both already ruled out any state tax increases as an option if they are elected in November.
As for tolls, Malloy rejected a proposal for so-called “border tolls” in January 2013, and Foley has said he would only consider tolls as a tool to help reduce traffic congestion.
But Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said he tax increases and/or tolls may be the only way to pay for the billions of dollars in transportation infrastructure improvements that this state desparately needs.
“I don’t see any other options out there that are viable,” Shubert said.