House may vote on tolls next week

From The Hour.

HARTFORD – House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, on Tuesday predicted there will be a vote on electronic highway tolls next week and acknowledged Republicans will not go along.

“I’m not willing to walk away,” Aresimowicz said when asked about the politics of an election year. “Our job is to make difficult decisions for the betterment of the state.” Still, Aresimowicz also said tolls remain a difficult sell even among his Democratic caucus. “I want to vote on it early next week,” Aresimowicz said. “We have to find out where the appetite of the caucus is. The majority of Republicans have staked out a position, so we are going to have to do it on our own.”

He said the bill would provide the state Department of Transportation guidance over what a tolling system on highways should look like and added the General Assembly would have to issue a final vote in a few years to implement that plan.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic leaders say tolls can bring in up to $1 billion in yearly revenue that can be used to ease congestion on highways and improve roads and bridges.

Aresimowicz cast some doubt over whether there is support for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to increase the state’s gas tax by seven cents over four years, saying discussion so far has centered on a tax on new cars.

“We just haven’t talked about it yet,” Aresimowicz said after the press conference. “I don’t know if it will be in the mix …. I’m not opposed to it. Whatever we do has to be a comprehensive strategy going forward.”

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