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Connecticut Democratic Leader Quick to Dismiss Road Usage Charge

The senate majority leader made clear that a mileage fee is not in the state's future. Diverting a half cent from the sales tax to the transportation budget took pressure off finding a sustainable solution to the state's transportation funding crisis
August 16, 2015, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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One thing appears clear in Connecticut when it comes to transportation funding: the Road Usage Charge is Not the Future of Road Funding.

"A proposal to charge state motorists by the amount of miles they drive on Connecticut roads has been rejected by Democratic leaders of the House and Senate," writes Ken Dixon for CT Post.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff indicated the road usage charge, the basis of the Oregon plan launched July 1 that transportation policymakers throughout the country have been eyeing, will not be part of "Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed $100 billion, 30-year plan to overhaul the state transportation and transit infrastructure."

In an August 7 statement, Duff said that in "addition to current sources of revenue from fuel taxes, there’s a new law dedicating 0.5 percent of the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax to transportation."

However, that sales tax is another example of a "diversion"—rather than increasing dedicated transportation funding like the gas tax, policy makers opt to divert existing revenue streams. Ironically, Mobilizing the Region asks, "Where's the lockbox?" to prevent diversion from the transportation budget.

Duff made clear his opposition to a mileage fee in his August 7 press release:

One of the ideas that recently garnered attention was the notion of a “mileage tax” that would be charged to residents based on the number of miles they drive in a certain period of time. This is an unproven idea. I am opposed to it and know that there is no appetite amongst Senate Democrats to advance this idea should a formal recommendation come from the governor’s panel.

Meanwhile, the a long-term solution to transportation funding remains elusive, reports Keith M. Phaneuf of The Connecticut Mirror, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet.

The state's Transportation Finance Panel, "which includes transportation advocates from both sides of the aisle, is studying how numerous states finance transportation," writes Phaneuf. "That means research into many examples of tolling, fuel taxes, project-labor agreements, public-private partnerships and various other topics all-but certain to spark intense debate."

(Chairman Cameron Staples, a New Haven Democrat and former state representative) was referring to a verbal sparring match that developed over research into a “mileage tax” – a system being tested in Oregon that levies a charge against residents for each mile they drive.

Phaneuf writes that Huff's opposition to the mileage charge was a response from a Republican attack on the funding option, while House Speaker Brendan Sharkey's noted that no one was even proposing such a charge. Was Huff too quick to condemn the road usage charge before it had even been discussed?

Phaneuf references "a new report Tuesday from the New England Public Policy Center, a think-tank affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, (that) tackled the controversial subject of gasoline taxes." 

From introduction: "This research compares existing gas taxes in the New England states and examines alternative tax structures that could improve fiscal sustainability."

Links to past Planetizen posts on Connecticut's fuel tax can be found below under "related." Interestingly, the state's diesel tax dropped 4.2 cents on July 1.

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Published on Saturday, August 8, 2015 in CT Post
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