HARTFORD, CT — It’s official. Gov. Ned Lamont and Democratic legislative leaders have decided to save highway tolls for a special session and focus their energy on getting a budget vote scheduled before the end of the week.
“I’ve said time and time again that the most important work we can do is to stabilize our state’s economy and give businesses the confidence to stay and grow or relocate here,” Lamont said. “Passing a fiscally responsible budget early is the first part of that equation. Doing so will allow mayors and first selectmen to know — for certain — what their budgets will look like for the next biennium and allow them to plan accordingly.”
Lamont and legislative leaders have been unable to come up with the Democratic votes in the House and the Senate needed to pass tolls before adjournment on June 5.
No Republican lawmakers are planning to vote in favor of tolls.
Some Democratic lawmakers saw their vote for tolls as an opportunity to get something else for their districts, but there wasn’t much of anything Lamont and Democratic leaders were able to offer in exchange.
In a special session, tolls would be the only thing on the table and lawmakers would have less to bargain with for their vote.
Lamont needs 76 of the 91 Democrats in the House and 18 of the 22 Democrats in the Senate to vote in favor of tolls.
The tolls bill, which Lamont released publicly Tuesday, has been finished for weeks even though everyone involved continues to call it a “work in progress.”
It’s the same bill CTNewsJunkie reported on Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said he didn’t want to put a toll bill up for a vote unless it would pass both chambers.
“A bill that would pass the Senate and get the governor’s signature is not present right now,” Aresimowicz said.
He said he doesn’t want to release details of a toll bill if it’s still subject to change.
“Every single time we put something out on the table for discussion and we pull it back or we change it from what it was before somehow it’s a big conspiracy and we’re lying to the residents of the state of Connecticut,” Aresimowicz said. “If the governor wants to put out the draft of the bill that both chairs have agreed is the middle of the road, then they can do that. I’m reluctant.”
Lamont released the draft Tuesday.
The governor released the text of the amendment to ensure legislators and the residents of Connecticut have the ability to review and ask questions about the current proposal. Further, he’s directed Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti and his staff to make themselves available to answer questions. The governor believes the proposal is a solid foundation from which to build upon during the special session.
“The Senate Democratic caucus remains committed to developing a responsible, long-term plan to invest in Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure and broad-based economic development,” Senate President Martin Looney said. “I want to thank Governor Lamont, Senator Leone, and Representative Lemar for their work on this major issue and I look forward to continuing this discussion in a special session.”