Letter: We need fiscal reform, not more taxes and definitely not tolls

Letter to the editor submitted by Kim Fiorello

Dear Editor,

In the 1980s, a grass roots campaign called “Banish All Tolls” successfully removed tolls from our Connecticut highways, citing its impact on lower income drivers and road safety.

A strategic benefit of getting rid of tolls was that our state became eligible to receive federal transportation dollars.  But Democrats have long bemoaned the loss of toll revenue.

To be clear, we cannot put up “border tolls” to capture out-of-state drivers without losing federal dollars.  The new electronic tolls that Democrats want will be “congestion pricing tolls” within our own state, disproportionately impacting Connecticut drivers.

These tolls push traffic off the highways and onto the side roads. That’s more traffic and air pollution in Greenwich.

To reach the $750M a year in toll revenue that Democrats are talking about, it would involve tolling almost every interstate, highway and major state road in Connecticut.  Our Transportation Commissioner said, “We would be the only state in the nation that tolled that much.”  One study on tolls put as many as 12 tolls on I-95 and 10 tolls on the Merritt between the New York border and New Haven, during peak hours costing drivers $5 to $6 per trip, adding more than $2000 to a commuter’s annual expenses.

Right now, Connecticut residents pay the 7th highest state gas tax in the nation at 43.8 cents per gallon.  Connecticut ranks 47th in cost-effectiveness for our transportation spending, coming in at $497,659 per mile vs. the national average of $178,116.  Plus, we pay the highest administrative costs in the country at $99,417 per mile.  These numbers come from spending data submitted to the federal government by all 50 state highway agencies. Hartford is highly inefficient with our transportation money!

And let’s not forget we were hit with major comprehensive tax increases in 2011 and in 2015, which only drove up the cost of living in our state.

So far, thankfully, top Democrats have failed to secure enough support to bring back tolls. However, our Democrat candidates are on the record saying they would vote yes for tolls.

There is wanton disregard for taxpayers in Hartford.  We need fiscal reform, not more taxes and definitely not tolls.  Vote for Frantz, Camillo and Bocchino on Nov 6.

Kimberly Fiorello

Note: The deadline for letters in support of candidates in the November 6, 2018 election was Monday, October 29, 2018.

We will continue to publish letters that were submitted in time for the deadline.