Rep. Laura Devlin: State transportation issues

When I made the decision to run for state representative in 2014, I placed Connecticut’s transportation reliability and infrastructure as one of my top priorities. Today, I am pleased to serve on the legislature’s Transportation committee.

In his address to the General Assembly on January 7, Governor Malloy outlined Transportation as one of his top priorities and offered his support of tolls on I-95 to finance his transportation goals.

It’s no secret that Connecticut needs to invest more in its existing transportation infrastructure. If you drive in Fairfield County on I-95, the Merritt Parkway, or commute on Metro-North (as I did to New York City for 15 years), you know firsthand. But are tolls the answer?

The Special Transportation Fund

Funding for transportation comes from a dedicated Special Transportation Fund (STF). The STF was created in 1984 after the Mianus Bridge collapse, to repair the bridge and create the Infrastructure Renewal Program.

Revenues to the STF fund include primarily the state’s two gasoline taxes, the State Excise Tax of $0.25 per gallon and a tax of 8.1% called the Gross Receipts Tax on the gross earnings of the first sale of specific petroleum products within Connecticut. Also included are motor vehicle sales tax, motor vehicle registration and operator license fees, and various DOT and DMV licenses and fees.

On the expense side, the STF funds are largely used for DMV and DOT expenses (including benefit and pension obligations for DMV and DOT employees) and debt service (currently, Connecticut bonds money for major capital transportation improvements such as bridges, road repaving, etc.).

Why we Need a Lockbox

In 2014, the STF was $1.243 billion. Unfortunately, $93 million was siphoned into the General Fund to help balance the budget. I have proposed a constitutional amendment to protect the STF and I am pleased the Governor has indicated his support. In this important time we cannot afford to have any transportation funds used for non-transportation purposes.

The Need to Prioritize Transportation Projects

Connecticut also needs to reprioritize its transportation investments. First and foremost, Metro North should be properly maintained. The Metro North New York-New Haven line is really the core of the state’s commuter rail system. It’s the busiest commuter line in the country, serving nearly 150,000 commuters. Yet recently, instead of making investments in the core, the state chose to invest $500 million in a high-speed bus lane between New Britain and Hartford (leaving CT residents to pay 70% of ongoing operating costs) and is revamping the New Haven – Springfield rail line, which serves 3,500 commuters, for nearly another $500 million.

As we move ahead this session the Transportation committee and its members will be reviewing many proposals to improve, finance and modernize our transportation system this session.

I welcome your thoughts and/or concerns about improving our transportation infrastructure and/or reinstating tolls. Please feel free to contact me by phone 800-842-1423 or email [email protected]

Please also visit repdevlin.com for news and commentary on the latest happenings in Fairfield and Trumbull and at the State Capitol and sign up for my e-newsletter so you can get updates and alerts emailed directly to your inbox.

Rep. Laura Devlin, CT state transportation issues, CT Department of Transportation

Rep. Laura Devlin, CT state transportation issues, CT Department of Transportation

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