Connecticut may be the next state to try and use truckers as a rolling piggy bank. Governor-elect Ned Lamont campaigned on using truck-only tolls to try and plug the deficit in their budget.
According to Lamont, the tolls could bring in anywhere from $100 million to $250 million a year, but did not offer any data to back up where those estimates came from. The tolls would be used to plug the state’s funding deficit.
While a truck-only toll plan isn’t set in stone yet, Lamont says that he doesn’t see a better option.
“I’ve got to pay for public infrastructure some way,” said Lamont according to the Journal Inquirer. “I haven’t heard a better way of paying for anything, except more borrowing or jacking up the gas tax.”
On the campaign trail, Lamont proposed imposing a truck-only toll on only out-of-state truckers. According to Lamont, out-of-state truckers “use our roads toll-free and create significant wear-and-tear.”
In reality, tolling only out-of-state trucks is likely a non-starter as it would be an apparent violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commerce Clause makes it illegal for states to pass legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce.
Lamont previously left open the possibility that the state would begin tolling all vehicles, not just trucks. He also proposed that truckers could get a discount on truck-only tolls by driving during off-peak traffic hours.
The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut has promised to fight back against any truck-only toll plan put forward by Lamont. Joe Sculley, president of the MTAC, said raising the sort of money Lamont is talking about solely from truckers “could double our tax burden overnight.”
Lamont may have gotten the inspiration for his truck-only tolls from Rhode Island’s program. Critics of that program warned that if Rhode Island’s tolls went unchallenged, truck-only tolls would spread across the country to other states. Despite lawsuits filed against the state, it seems like that’s exactly what’s started to happen.
Lamont has reportedly stated that he’ll wait to see how the lawsuit filed against Rhode Island is decided before putting out a formal proposal for Connecticut.