Republican lawmakers outlined Tuesday a 30-year plan to spend more than $37 billion on transportation infrastructure improvements without raising taxes or installing highway tolls.
The plan, offered during a state Capitol press conference, lays out a plan by the legislature’s minority party for how to pay for expensive transportation overhauls that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has made a focal point of this year’s legislative session.
Malloy, who is expected to outline his own plan next week as part of his two-year budget proposal, has not ruled out approving new revenue sources and Democrats in the legislature have proposed legislation to reinstate highway tolls.
Leaders of the two Republican caucuses called for paying for the projects by prioritizing state borrowing rather than raising revenues.
“We all have a story about transportation in Connecticut. Where we likely disagree is how we’re going to fund it,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said. “As with anything else, we have to prioritize that money.”
The proposal sets aside at least $441.5 million in General Obligation bonding each year to be used for transportation projects. The amount dedicated to transportation generally grows over the course of the plan. By 2025, the proposal calls for the state to bond more than $708 million for infrastructure. Combined with Special Tax Obligation bonds, Republicans expect to have more than $1 billion set aside for transportation each year.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said the plan could be bolstered by federal reimbursements.
“This plan doesn’t pick winners, it doesn’t pick losers. It has spending that is prioritized for a stronger, better Connecticut,” Fasano said.
Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia said the administration was pleased Republicans were engaged in a dialogue on transportation but said they had not proposed enough funding and hadn’t said which projects they would prioritize.
The funding levels in the plan “will likely only fund the status quo,” Puglia said in an email. “The governor believes we need a transformative transportation plan — one that includes projects, prioritized by experts — and he looks forward to submitting those ideas to the General Assembly when he presents his budget next week.”
Asked about raising revenues Tuesday, Fasano dismissed the idea and said tolls would not raise adequate revenue to be worth installing.
“Tolls just don’t cut it,” he said. “… I have yet to see anybody come forward to show that tolls can actually pay for it. Nevertheless, if you look at the magnitude and the scale that the governor is talking about, even if you were to say tolls contribute money, it’s a drop in the bucket.”