Democratic View: A stronger Connecticut
Gov. Lamont’s CT2030 plan to improve Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is fiscally responsible and strategically forward-looking. As opposed to the Republican proposal that would raid the state’s Rainy Day Fund and threaten Connecticut’s solvency in the event of a recession, CT2030 counts on fair user fees (tolls) and strengthens the state’s long-term financial position by diversifying the type and level of borrowing it uses. The pillars of CT2030 include:
1) Preserving the $750 million in U.S. DOT federal grants — not loans — that CT currently obtains;
2) Providing solvency and health to the State Transportation Fund (STF) by transferring 100% of the car sales tax to it and including a 15% reserve fund, without increasing sales and income taxes;
3) Strengthening the states’ long-term financial position by lowering the amount of standard Special Tax Obligation bonds;
4) Collecting tractor trailers user fees that are comparable to those from adjacent states. Currently, Connecticut drivers contribute 100% of funds to maintain our roads and bridges, while out-of-state drivers and trucks contribute nothing.
Under CT2030, tractor trailers transporting goods through Connecticut will pay user fees to compensate for the extreme wear and tear to our roads. Connecticut drivers will pay no tolls.
The great benefit of user fees is that they are a consistent form of revenue.
The GOP’s Fastr CT proposal would raid $1.6B from the Rainy Day Fund, reducing reserves from $2.4B to just $0.8B, a 67% reduction. The recklessness and risks of the GOP Fastr CT proposal are obvious given that the last recession reduced Connecticut tax revenues
by - wait for it -- $1.6B. GOP’s Fastr CT makes the historically and economically-unsupported assumption that current positive economic trends will continue indefinitely into the future, despite the warnings by economists that another recession is likely within the next few years.
The grave dangers of raiding the Rainy Day Fund are not theoretical, but rather are directly known from state’s disastrous experience during Republican Gov. Rell’s administration. At the start of the last recession, the Rainy Day Fund totaled $1.4 billion. However, annual tax receipts dropped by $1.6 billion. The Rell Administration exhausted the entire fund to cover the lost tax receipts, another $950 million was spent to cover state operating expenses, School aid was cut 15%, and other critical state spending was also cut. Obviously then, the Republicans’ Fastr scheme is neither economically sound nor fiscally responsible and is just the latest needless effort by Republicans to further mortgage against the future.
Gov. Lamont’s CT2030 plan is the only fiscally responsible and economically sound option left on the table. It will preserve a healthy Rainy Day Fund, continue the governor’s accelerated program to pay down accumulated pension debt, and put Connecticut on a sound footing to finance desperately needed infrastructure improvements through a secure, long-term source of user fee system funded solely by transiting truckers. As a result, Connecticut’s economy will be a safer bet for businesses and residents alike.
The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides the column.