Republicans claimed a rare legislative victory last week when they got Democratic lawmakers to denounce a mileage tax that had been offered up as an idea at the governor’s Transportation Finance Panel meeting.
Last Friday, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff released statements in opposition to a mileage tax as a way to pay for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion transportation initiative.
“This is an unproven idea,” Duff said of the tax. “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.”
Sharkey explained that the idea of a mileage tax was discussed by a bipartisan panel and wasn’t even a proposal.
After several ideas were discussed by the governor’s Transportation Finance Panel last month, Republicans sensed “yet another opportunity to score political points at the expense of an actual policy discussion,” Sharkey said. Republicans wrongly attributed the idea to legislative Democrats and then emailed their constituents “to scare them about an idea that no legislator has even discussed, much less proposed.”
The idea was one of several discussed at a two-hour meeting of the bipartisan panel tasked with figuring out a way to pay for Malloy’s transportation initiative.
“If Republicans want to be taken seriously on policy matters, then they should start seriously engaging on policy matters. Connecticut’s transportation policy and economy are too important to Connecticut’s hard-working families for Republicans to continue to play their political games,” Sharkey said.
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano said that his party was only trying to make sure the idea of another tax didn’t get any traction.
Fasano said Republicans put together a transportation funding plan that didn’t include tax increases and instead of taking the idea seriously, Democrats called it “silly.”
Fasano said a $100-billion initiative is “ridiculous” and “absurd.”
He said if Democrats want to make transportation a priority, then they need to figure out how to pay for it without tax increases.
As far as a mileage tax is concerned, “I don’t know why we’re even talking about this,” Fasano said.
He said he’s glad Democratic lawmakers have denounced the mileage tax.
The email Republicans sent encouraged constituents to call Democratic lawmakers and let them know they’re against the tax.
Republicans sent out emails Friday thanking constituents for calling shortly after Duff and Sharkey issued their statements.