Norwalk Dems seek to persuade public on toll issue

State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142) presents information about the state’s infrastructure, May 13 in Norwalk Commuity College.

NORWALK, Conn. – You need to defend the facts when it comes to tolls, State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137) said.

To that end, Perone, State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142) relayed the facts to a friendly crowd of about 50 Democrats with a PowerPoint presentation in Norwalk Community College, including a nugget Dathan thought important: raising the gas tax by 1 cent would generate $15 million a year in additional revenue, not a very big drop in the bucket when everyone agrees that $700 million a year is needed to fix Connecticut’s infrastructure.

The pair were joined by Gov. Ned Lamont.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

“There’s a lot of guys walking about with signs that say ‘no tolls,’” Lamont said at the May 13 event. “Well, what do you want? Just more gridlock or, ‘It ain’t don’t broke don’t fix it’? That’s not a prognosis that either party is subscribing to right now.”

Perone and Dathan explained that Connecticut Republicans agree that the state’s infrastructure needs fixing, but would rather bond the money than install tolls.

No Tolls CT organized a rally Saturday in Hartford.

“Chanting things like ‘Save Our State’ and ‘No Tolls,’ a crowd estimated at 2,100 showed up at the state Capitol on a sunny Saturday to protest a proposal to install tolls on four highways in Connecticut,” CTNewsJunkie reports, commenting that the rally started late because some legislators were stuck in traffic due to accidents.

“There is no question that our transportation system is a mess,” Lamont Senior Advisor Colleen Flanagan Johnson said in a statement released in response to the rally. “A broad coalition of local, business, labor and legislative leaders all agree that we need a reliable, sustainable path forward for Connecticut. We rank near dead last in the nation for the condition of our infrastructure.”

“The people who attended today’s rally aren’t saying no to tolls,” she continued. “They’re saying yes to excessive borrowing on the state’s already maxed out credit card. They’re saying yes to saddling future generations in this state with debt we can’t afford. And they’re saying yes to an unsustainable and reckless fiscal policy. We are at a crossroads, and if we don’t fix our transportation system now, our economy will continue to lag for decades to come.”

The Republican bonding plan would make it tougher to fund school construction and other important needs, such as dredging, flood control and fire training schools, Dathan and Perone argued on May 13.

Democrats have a working draft of a toll bill, indicating that the state would cut the gas tax by one cent per gallon per year over a five-year period to offset the additional cost of tolls, CTNewsJunkie reports. The draft also includes discounts for low-income residents and outlines investments in a number of critical projects.

“It’s likely the General Assembly will debate a toll bill next week as it races toward its June 5 deadline,” CTNewsJunkie reports.

Working families, “say 125 percent of poverty,” might get 100 miles put onto their EZPass, and perhaps bus prices in cities will be reduced to $1, Lamont said last week.

The good news is that both parties believe in fixing the infrastructure, he said, predicting that no Republican will vote for tolls and calling that a “shame.”

They all believe $700 million a year in funding is need if you’re going to “speed up Metro North, improve the exits on I-95 to end that congestion,” Lamont said.

The money will go into a lockbox, and, “I understand the skepticism people feel but at the end of the day this is the most important investment we can make,” Lamont said. “And yeah, people leave because of taxes but they also leave because it takes them an hour to go 10 miles. … That’s a job killer for the state.”

An audience member asked why tolls are not a shoe in, given that the legislature is dominated by Democrats.

“It’s a tough vote,” Lamont said. “You’re asking people to sacrifice a little today for a much better tomorrow, and you’ve got the other team saying ‘you can have all of this and it won’t cost you a dime, we can just borrow it in the future.’ And frankly, when you have elections every two years casting a tough vote is not always easy.”

Perone and Dathan are “loud and clear” in their support for tolls, he pointed out.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) recently declined to take a stand.

Revenue from gas taxes have dropped, Dathan and Perone said.

“We have an opportunity to be a little bit longer term thinking and this is a plan that is going to take time to get onboard and to implement,” Dathan said. “…. Eventually, I certainly would like to see that this would be the main source of our revenue and we will not be reliant and hopefully our gas taxes will be able to come down in the future.”

“For a long time I was a no on this,” Perone said. “I get frustrated, too. Seems like every time you turn around, the state, they are always asking for more money from me.”

He always thought a lockbox would be needed, so that, “Whatever we raise on tolls, those will be dedicated funds only to help transportation, to build out our infrastructure, to make us more competitive,” he said. “I think I can get behind that.”


Sue Haynie May 20, 2019 at 6:12 am

Wimpy, all three of them, they get 50 Democrats and talk to the choir about something this important.

Duff will vote for tolls, but my guess, right now Duff’s ‘undecided’ because he’s realized that Norwalk’s finally on to him. Everything Duff does benefits Hartford first, benefits Hartford more than Norwalk. Duff will remain ‘undecided’ on the tolls (until he votes ‘yes’ that is).

David May 20, 2019 at 6:27 am

I’m going to make this simple I don’t support the additional revenue going to the state I don’t care if it’s tolls or increased taxes if they want to put in tolls to have to cut all the taxes that they raised to pay for the roads to zero you know like the casino contributions gas tax sales tax extras

M Murray May 20, 2019 at 6:43 am

This state government won’t end a source of revenue once it gets one. If a toll is passed it will never go away. Remember the “temporary income tax” that was passed not that long ago just to get us through the deficit? Temporary is now permanent. This state government will never lower this tax once it is implemented. Again remember the temporary state income tax that now increases every year? How long do you think it will be before the discounted rate for in-state drivers shrinks or disappears? How long before the tolls increase? Have you ever seen tolls in other states decrease? How many of us really benefit from $1 bus fares? This government will ALWAYS increase spending if they get more money. Again, remember the temporary income tax!! Did they pay off the debt and eliminate the tax or did they increase the spending, and create more debt. They will always spend more than they have. That is what government does. The more you give them, the more ways they will find to spend it. Make them live within their means like the rest of us do. Make them focus their spending on basic infrastructure repairs and less on issues that don’t have tangible returns.

Alice Allen May 20, 2019 at 7:07 am

Sacrifice a little? That’s a joke. The hard-working people of this state have been sacrificing for decades and to what end? Just more and more and more. Time to make adjustments on how our tax money etc is used. How about lowering the salaries of our illustrious government officials? How about not ‘paying’ non-productive’ members of society for doing absolutely nothing and getting free medical services, food stamps etc that others have to work for to get. RIDICULOUS. Soon the state will run out of other people’s money.

Bridget P May 20, 2019 at 7:59 am

In a nutshell, Lamont perpetrated a fraud on Connecticut voters by pledging a “NO” to tolls on CT residents – any state legislator along with the governor should be voted out of office who support this – shameful.

Victor Cavallo May 20, 2019 at 8:03 am

Trying to make sense of this push for tolls?

You have it all wrong.

Don’t think of them as taxes to fund transportation.

Think of them as universal union dues we’ll all be kicking-in to pay union pensions.

Mike Lyons May 20, 2019 at 9:03 am

For anyone who thinks this money won’t eventually be diverted to the general fund and simply used as another source of tax revenue – as toll receipts were the last time we had tolls – I have some ocean-front land to sell you in Utah.

JB May 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

As a person who uses 95 every day to get to and from work I’m not a fan of tolls. That being said, the roads are awful. I hear a lot of complaints but not a lot of solutions for an infrastructure that is crumbling. Can someone provide ideas instead of just tearing down the politicians?

Lisa Brinton May 20, 2019 at 9:14 am

Hey Mike, I’m from Utah! However, the fact that Norwalk’s local and state representatives appear more beholding to Hartford than their city or constituents is both frustrating and depressing. Connecticut could use a little of Utah’s industriousness and economic discipline, if not beachfront😆

John Levin May 20, 2019 at 9:16 am

I just drove to Philadelphia and back over the weekend. Tolls everywhere: NY state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. How much did my trip cost? I have no idea, because like 99.7% of drivers I use EZ Pass, I never slowed down once, and I won’t see a bill until it comes in the mail in a month. I would guess I spent $25-40 on tolls. What amount of extra stupid does Connecticut need to NOT ever take money from out of state drivers in the same way that every state around us does?

And another thing people: our state has bills to pay. Frankly, I wish we didn’t but we do. Anyone who complains about any tax will gain credibility if they offer an alternative revenue source, or identify exactly what spending items should be eliminated. Short of that, in my book you’re just a whiner.

Piberman May 20, 2019 at 9:45 am

Why the excitement ? Everyone knows tolls are taxes and CT Democrats believe higher taxes will rejuvenate CT’s decade long stagnant economy. Despite the absence of any evidence that higher taxes promote economic activity. CT has a bright future under CT Democrats. Bring on the tolls. Call the movers. And watch the Exodus grow.

Of course there’s no reason to believe tolls would actually be devoted to better roads, etc. Look how CT highway funds have been mismanaged. Bridges ignored for decades. A State that can’t manage its DMV can’t possibly manage its highway system. But it can raise tolls.

Bryan Meek May 20, 2019 at 9:59 am

@JB. We’ve already paid for the roads to be fixed several times over. The money is being spent on other things we don’t need and can’t afford.

There are 9 highways crisscrossing Hartford County and we have 2 down here where we generate over half of the state’s income.

Every day in Hartford should be spent by Perrone, Dathan, and Duff bemoaning these facts. Instead they serve their party first at our expense.

Duff and Perrone supported the $600 million busway from New Britain to Hartford that on top of the $30 million in debt service also requires a $20 million subsidy to operate. It serves 8,000 riders a day.

To put that in perspective, they give us $11 million a year for 11,000 students and have the audacity to brag about it at staged press conferences.

Duff should be hiding, instead he has no shame to tell the world he is the only person in Norwalk breathing that doesn’t have an opinion on tolls.

AL May 20, 2019 at 11:42 am

At least four,maybe five, “studies” about tolls. The last one that Malloy jammed through was $10M. Public money spends so easily…
A secret group of ex-Malloy lobbyists has spent hundreds of thousands to push the pro-toll agenda.
Hartford has gone from saying that 70% will be funded by out of state drivers,to 40%. Most think that in-state drivers will pay 70% and out of state 30%.
There has never been a revenue issue in this state for funding transportation. The money has been siphoned off into the General Fund for decades and no “lock box”will change that. The current leadership in the legislature has been spending all that money for decades.
Our previous Transportation Governor with his train to nowhere and his bus to nowhere and all those in Hartford can’t wait to pack the new Toll Authority with high paying jobs. Look at the MTA or MassDot to see what you will be getting in Connecticut. Two thirds of the MTA workers make waaay over $100K–don’t dig too deeply there. You will get sick.
Tolls will do nothing to alleviate congestion. Look at every bridge and tunnel in NY.And the recent congestion pricing for the lower half of Manhattan? Same story…so many carve-outs and exceptions.
Lamont has made more disgusting promises to get this passed. Promising to raise money for those who vote for tolls…that could be close to illegal! Lowering the gas tax by a penny or bus fares by a few cents.
And 3P proposals? Find the very,very few that actually benefit the public…good luck with that.
It is odd that when it comes to potential revenue Hartford can get the job done in a short period of time but when it comes to cutting…well, they can study it or promise it for twenty+ years in the future.
We will get tolls. Probably around midnight after a “special session”.
And nothing will change in The Land of steady Habits except the cost.

George May 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

John. You do know that you can drive to Philly and only pay one $5.00 toll on the Tappen Zee right? 95 to Tap to 287 to 202 and down to Philly. In fact you can drive from Ct to ALL points south of PA with only one, 1, 1 dollar toll going from NJ to PA….on I-78. 95 to Tap to 287 to 78 to 81.
Oh, and their are no tolls coming back. Except again at the Tap.

Just because “other states” charges tolls does not mean everyone has to.

Ct has a spending problem…not a revenue problem.

quaker May 20, 2019 at 1:03 pm

What each Representative of Norwalk should do is Sign a Pledge that if any money from Tolls goes to pay Teachers Unions and State employees pension but ROADS they resign on the spot. How many of the them have the GUTS to do this from Duff, Dathan and Perone.

Eleanor Lx May 20, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Approximately 55% of CT’s budget devoured to state labor benefits, can anyone of these three geniuses tackle the core problems facing the state?

Per the Yankee Institute,

“Connecticut pensions and retirement health benefits are part of Connecticut’s growing “fixed costs” which make up 53 percent of the budget and have begun to crowd out other state spending. Fringe benefit costs for employees are set to grow $544 million over the next two years largely due to the cost of underfunded retirement benefits.”


Nancy Smith May 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Cars with New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania plates have enjoyed a free ride on our
Highways for many years while CT cars have had to pay tolls to drive on their roads.
I say go forward with tolls for cars from these states, and give a free ride to CT cars.

Non Partisan May 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

@ Nancy- we have this minor inconvenience called interstate commerce laws.

To all ct politicians- need more dollars? – start with reigning in your labor costs, and then eliminate you sanctuary state/city policies.

DT May 20, 2019 at 7:21 pm

1- Nancy Smith…I love your idea of only charging cars with plates from other states a toll to drive on our roads. Brilliant!
2- Lucy Dathan is a DEMOCRAT from New Canaan? That’s like being a Knicks fan living in Chicago. Very rare!

Jeff May 20, 2019 at 8:26 pm

Why won’t Duff give an opinion on tolls? Is he hoping we just won’t notice when he votes yes? Or does he want to waste another $10m of our money on useless studies before forming an opinion?
We pay sales tax to buy the car, property tax to own the car, registration fees and gas taxes to use the car. And now a tax on trade-ins. That’s a lot of money that never seems to make its way to the roads.

Ron Morris May 20, 2019 at 8:29 pm

Eleanor Lx
You State
Approximately 55% of CT’s budget devoured to state labor benefits.
What you forgot to state is that these pension plans are from the twice convicted Republican felon Rowlands time in office. As per usual the mess that Republicans make take years and years to clean up.

Grorge May 20, 2019 at 9:53 pm

Nancy. You do know that Ct recieves Federal dollars for the intrastate highways which will be cut by at least half once the tolls are installed.
Also, thy he state cannot dictate who pays tolls and who does not. Remember Ned campained saying he would only toll trucks? Besides, Ned says now onky 40 percent of cars are from out of state.

Ed May 21, 2019 at 8:23 am

Our transportation is a a mess. So let’s give the people in charge more money. Makes sense.

Bryan Meek May 21, 2019 at 8:26 am

Listen to Ron Morris. Genius. This is all Roland’s fault. Poor Bob Duff and team are just victims of what was done 20 years ago. In the last 15 years they have tripled spending and made us a sanctuary state to make up for what Roland did to us. Let’s blame Eli Whitney while we are at it. His invention kicked off the industrial revolution that is the real cause for all this government we need. He’s the reason Bob Duff and team had to divert billions of dollars over the years away from road construction and into programs for their voters.

Itsjustme8 May 21, 2019 at 9:55 am

If certain companies allowed employees to work from home one day a week, our roads would be far less congested. Maybe our governments plan is to chase companies out of CT so that the roads will be less travelled.

Hank May 21, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Welcome to Norwalk and Connecticut….sanctuaries, where hard-working middle-class taxpayers end up on the short stick.

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