The state Senate unanimously passed legislation April 20 creating a public-private partnership to address the state’s historic truck driver shortage.
As amended, SB 334 require the Department of Correction to make suitable space and technology available for (1) preparation of the commercial driver’s license knowledge test provided by or in conjunction with a regional workforce development board; and (2) the administration of the commercial driver’s license knowledge test to incarcerated individuals who will be reentering the community in six months or less not subject to disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle.
“[This bill] is a win for [incarcerated individuals], its a win for their families, it's a win for society," Haskell said.
"It advances social justice and economic prosperity ... It helps to address the supply chain shortage by providing a robust workforce for an industry that is struggling."
Committee ranking member Sen. Heather Somers (R-Mystic) said the legislation helps solve "the problem of having incarcerated folks be able to find work."
“We are filling the need of the supply chain and we are working together across agencies to make this work,” she said.
According to a report last year by the American Trucking Association, companies currently face a driver shortage of 80,000.
At current trends, the shortage could exceed 160,000 by 2030 and over the next decade, ATA estimates the industry will need almost one million new drivers.
In Connecticut, many trucking companies have aggressively recruited new drivers by offering salary increases, fully-paid CDL training, sign-on bonuses, and tuition reimbursement.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 median pay for truck drivers was $48,310 per year and $23.23 per hour.
Just a few weeks ago, Walmart announced that it was raising the average starting salary for first-year drivers from around $88,000 to a range of $95,000 to $110,000.