Lavielle and Boucher oppose Malloy’s toll move

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) have both issued statements opposed to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive order last week directing the state Department of Transportation to undertake a study of the impact of tolls on all major Connecticut highways, including Interstates 95, 91, and 84, along with the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways.

On Wednesday, the Bond Commission, which he chairs, approved his request to borrow $10 million for the study.

Lavielle signed a legislators’ petition this week to request a special session for the purpose of prohibiting the expenditure of taxpayer funds for the study.

“The governor’s demand for $10 million in bonding to study tolls this summer was surprising, particularly because the legislature just recently twice considered and failed to pass bills that included toll studies: HB 5391 in 2018, and an amendment to HB 6058 in 2017. The executive order therefore directly circumvents the clearly expressed will of the legislature,” Lavielle said. “For that reason, I am joining the members of my caucus in submitting a petition to convene a special session so that the legislature can exercise its authority to direct how taxpayer money is spent and stop a project that we, as well as many of our constituents, feel to be inappropriate.”

She agreed with state Comptroller Kevin Lembo (D-CT), who sits on the Bond Commission and voted to oppose bonding $10 million for a toll study, saying “The Bond Commission should not act as a replacement for legislative action.”

Legislators have until noon on July 26 to submit enough signatures to convene a special session of the General Assembly.

Boucher called Malloy’s executive order a “parting gift” before he leaves office.

“This is another attempt by the most unpopular governor in America to do an end run around the legislature and force onto the state a study that taxpayers don’t want, don’t need, and can’t afford,” she said, adding a failed bill in the legislature called for $5 million to study tolls.

“Priorities like funding schools, getting the disabled off of waiting lists for services, repairing old train bridges and our roads must come first,” she said.

In issuing his executive order, Malloy said the need for the study is clear. “During this past legislative session, we heard time and again from legislators that they wished for more information regarding electronic tolling, including specific recommendations with respect to its possible implementation,” he said.

“As Connecticut’s General Assembly and next governor consider how to address the future of our state’s transportation funding, this study and plan will prove to be invaluable in their endeavor to make an informed decision. After all, we need to be truthful with the people we were elected to represent — without transforming the way we fund our highways, we will be unable to pay for the large-scale construction and rehabilitation projects that our state needs to ensure continued safe travel while attracting businesses and growing our economy.”