GOP Rolls Out Alternative Transportation Plan
Connecticut Senate Republicans have proposed a 10-year, $18 billion plan that uses $1.5 billion from the state’s reserves to fund transportation projects.
GOP senators unveiled their plan Nov. 14, one week after Gov. Ned Lamont proposed a 10-year, $21 billion transportation program.
Both plans invest in roads, bridges, and rail, bus, and airport upgrades—and rely on low-interest federal loans.
Lamont’s plan involves a combination of bonds, federal loans, and revenue from tolls on 14 bridges along eight highways.
The GOP plan avoids tolls, tapping the state’s $2.5 billion reserve fund to pay down pension obligations, reducing annual pension payments by $130 million annually that would then fund transportation projects.
Republicans also propose using federal loans while earmarking $100 million in annual bonding for transportation, which would take precedence over other projects.
Lamont has in the past spoken against tapping the reserve fund in case of another economic downturn, and in favor of reducing borrowing by putting the state on a “debt diet.”
Republicans released their plan a day after Senate Democrats told Lamont they could not support his tolls plan.
Instead, Democratic leaders floated the possibility of funding transportation with proceeds from legalized sports betting and marijuana sales.
But Lamont said he doubts that would raise the $320 million annually that his toll plan would generate to pay off federal transportation loans.
Car Sales Tax
The Republican plan resurrects the Transportation Strategy Board, a group of business leaders, stakeholders, and and establishes a Connecticut/New York Railroad Strategy Board to vet all rail projects.
The GOP proposal also dedicates the car sales tax to the Special Transportation Fund.
The tax currently generates around $400 million a year but is expected to grow to about $750 million annually by 2023.
The Republican plan does not call for specific road or bridge projects, instead deferring that decision to state transportation officials and the new Transportation Strategy Board.
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