Getting the General Assembly to pass a constitutional lockbox for transportation funds and get it on the ballot in November was one of the few things Gov. Dannel P. Malloy didn’t get accomplished this session.
Malloy, who is seeking to increase the amount of money the state spends on improving its transportation by $100 billion over the next 30 years, failed to get either chamber of the General Assembly to raise the bill for debate.
In the past, Malloy has said he won’t support additional revenue for transportation until a constitutional lockbox is in place. It’s unclear if that is still his position.
“The lockbox is the very definition of a structural change — that’s why we are such ardent supporters of it,” Devon Puglia, a spokesman for Malloy, said Thursday. “We know we need to transform our transportation system, and we will get this done. It’s critical to our ability to invest in our economy and attract new businesses.”
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said she feels for the governor on the issue.
She said if he was only negotiating it with the Republicans and was able to make the language stronger, he would have gotten most of the 64 Republicans in the House. However, that would have cost Democratic votes.
“The language being weaker, as it was, got most of their votes and lost ours,” Klarides said. “And that was a very bad position for him or any of us who truly believe in a constitutional lockbox.”
Malloy needed 114 votes in the House to get it on the ballot in November. In December, he raised a similar bill, but it fell short of the three-quarters he needed to get it on the ballot.
“When you have a lockbox that looks great in the front and has a big hole in the back or has a hole in the front and looks good from the back or depending on what angle you get it, from the side — that’s not a lockbox,” Klarides said Thursday. “And that’s misleading the state of Connecticut.”
Republican lawmakers who voted against the lockbox in December expressed concern that the resolution failed to define the source of revenue coming into the lockbox, which could allow for diversions before the money gets to the fund.
Malloy felt the new language should satisfy their concerns, but concerns remained when the bill was approved by the Transportation Committee in March. It was placed on the House calendar in March and remained there untouched for the remainder of the legislative session, which ended Wednesday.
Lawmakers are expected to return next week for a special session to adopt the budget, but a transportation lockbox was not included in the call to special session.