Governor Malloy called the Connecticut legislature to a special session on Tuesday, Dec. 8 for “deficit mitigation” purposes. As part of the special session, the legislature also considered a measure to institute a Constitutional amendment to put a “lockbox” on funds going into the state’s Special Transportation Fund. The text of the proposed Constitutional amendment did not specify what revenue sources would be protected by the lockbox, meaning that legislators would have to specify those revenue sources at a later time.
The measure passed the Senate unanimously, but in the House it only garnered 100 votes, not the 114 needed to have it pass by a 3/4 supermajority, which would have put it on the ballot for voters to approve in 2016. The measure can be brought up again in 2017, and if passed by a simple majority, would be on the ballot for voters to approve in 2018. It is also possible that a very similar version could be considered in the 2016 session, so that it could make the 2016 ballot for the public to vote on the amendment, if it receives the 3/4 supermajority.
Many legislators have raised concerns about the strength of the “lockbox.” Since the language which would have created the Constitutional amendment did not specify the revenue sources to be protected, that could have left the door open for tax revenue that is traditionally sent to the Special Transportation Fund to be diverted, as has happened in the past.
MTAC believes that since all revenues to the Special Transportation Fund are motor vehicle user fees (specifically, the motor fuels taxes, the oil companies tax, motor vehicle receipts, licenses/permits/fees, DMV sales) the text of the Constitutional amendment should explicitly protect them. Additionally, the Constitutional amendment should protect the portion of the sales tax that is currently going to the STF, and any federal highway funds that are received by the state. MTAC will continue to push for a strong protection of transportation funds.