Voters face state questions on ballot

In addition to candidates for state and federal offices, there will be two questions proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Connecticut on Tuesday’s ballot — asking yes or no on whether to place restrictions on the use of state transportation funds and on state property sales.

The first question asks voters if the state’s constitution should be amended to require that all monies in the Special Transportation Fund be used for only transportation purposes, including debts incurred by state highway, bridge projects and the like. Any funding sources directed to the transportation fund would be required to continue to be directed there, as long as the law authorizes the state to collect or receive them.

Such restrictions have been referred to as the “transportation lockbox” by some state officials, legislators and candidates.

By law, the this is a dedicated fund primarily used to finance state highway and public transportation projects as well as operate the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation. The law directs a number of revenue sources to the fund, such as state fuel taxes, most transportation-related fees and motor vehicle-related fines, and a portion of state sales and use taxes, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research. Fund resources are pledged to secure bonds for transportation projects and must be used first to pay debt service on these bonds, according to the research office.

Property sales

The second question asks whether the constitution should be amended to limit the General Assembly’s ability to pass legislation on a state agency proposal to sell or transfer any state real property (land or buildings) or property interest without meeting certain restrictions. The amendment would require a legislative committee to first hold a public hearing to allow for public comment on such sales and transfers. It would also require that legislation address only the property under consideration. In addition, if such property is under the custody or control of the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, such enactment of legislation must be passed by a two-thirds vote of the total membership of the state House and state Senate.

State laws establish various procedures that state agencies must follow to transfer state real property. The General Assembly may transfer property through legislation, known as “conveyance bills,” without subjecting the transfers to the statutory procedures, according to the Office of Legislative Research. The constitutional amendment would prohibit the General Assembly from transferring property by passing these types of bills, unless the above conditions were met. The amendment would not apply to transfers made by state agencies under the statutory procedures.