Trucks at a Connecticut rest area (CTNewsJunkie file photo)
JOSEPH R. SCULLEY
JOSEPH R. SCULLEY

The treatment of small business trucking companies in Connecticut is like an undersized kid in grade school always getting his lunch money stolen by a bigger, stronger kid. In this case, our “lunch money” is the taxes and fees the industry pays to fund the Special Transportation Fund.

Well, they are supposed to go to the Special Transportation Fund. But much like the bigger kid stealing the lunch money from the little guy, previous legislatures have diverted more than $1 billion in tax and fee revenue away from the Special Transportation Fund. These diversions are a huge factor in the pending solvency issues in the Special Transportation Fund.

After years of the little guy having his lunch money stolen, the relatively new teacher in town (Gov. Ned Lamont) has assessed the situation, and determined that it’s the little guy’s fault that the big guy keeps stealing his money. And not only that, he thinks the little guy should now come up with more money and start buying lunch for other kids now, too. Even the kids with rich parents who just had their expensive new Tesla purchase subsidized, and don’t pay any road taxes.  

That’s basically what this truck mileage tax proposal is. It is sending the message that it’s the trucking industry’s fault that the government has mismanaged the Special Transportation Fund. It must be the trucking industry’s fault that the $1 billion was diverted away from the fund. It’s the trucking industry’s fault that the government has the STF pay for things like funding pensions and fringe benefits, some costs for the Department of Administrative Services, and costs for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

In the grade school example, no teacher would blame the little guy for being bullied by a bigger kid. They would put a stop to it and do their best to make things right.

To be clear, the trucking industry is full of men and women who are strong leaders, who don’t need help and who aren’t asking for any handouts. But from the view of a government, Connecticut trucking companies, or businesses who happen to also operate trucks as part of their ordinary course of business, are by definition small businesses. They are the little guy compared to other entities in the state. That’s why they are getting picked on, because they’re an easy target.

Small business trucking companies are not “big kids” like insurance giants, who can turn around and talk back to the other big kid, like one of them reportedly did a couple of years ago, or several of them did last week.

Small business trucking companies are not as quick and nimble as some of the other hypothetical classmates who were able to walk away from the big kid like Alexion, General Electric, Mass Mutual, and UTC, who just walked away.

The realities of trucking industry operations make it basically impossible to abruptly leave one state and move to another. Additionally, small business trucking companies are often family businesses that get passed down from one generation to the next. They may not want to leave, regardless of how much money the “big kid” or the government keeps taking from them.

So, these realities lead us to where we are right now, with the government poised to take the little guy’s lunch money once again. My hope is that there are enough legislators who will be willing to act as classmates who bravely step in to protect the little guy in my example. Will there be enough legislators who are willing to say that they are going to support, rather than target, the small business trucking companies in Connecticut?

Joseph R. Sculley is the president of the Motor Transport Association of CT. 

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.