This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified before the legislature’s joint Transportation Committee on a couple of important issues. Mr. Sculley discussed resolutions to implement a “lockbox” to, in theory, protect the use of state transportation funds. He stated that the lockbox must be strengthened before it is adopted.
Mr. Sculley elaborated by stating that “the current version of the Special Transportation Fund is flawed, and changes should be made before it is ‘locked in.’ Most of the revenues going into the Special Transportation Fund are generated by cars and trucks, but most of what that revenue is spent on is transit or ‘general purposes.’ Using data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), you can find that Connecticut routinely ranks low in terms of state-imposed ‘Highway User Fee’ revenue generated by motor vehicles being spent on highway purposes, versus non-highway purposes.”
Mr. Sculley’s testimony alluded to the fact that soon there will no longer be federal funds available for funding CT Fastrak operations, and when that happens, even more highway user fee revenue will be required to maintain CT’s transit system.
Mr. Sculley’s testimony also discussed tolling legislation. He began by saying, “There have been several suggestions that CT needs tolls because out-of-state vehicles use our roads for free, and CT should get revenue from them. Out-of-state passenger cars might use CT’s roads for free, but the suggestion that out-of-state trucks ‘get a free ride’ on Connecticut’s highways is simply untrue. Out-of-state trucks pay CT a percentage of their fuel taxes and registration fees based on miles driven in our state, which helps fund the STF. Per the CT Department of Revenue Services, CT netted $14.3 million in fuel use taxes from out-of-state commercial truck fleets for the last year of available data (4Q2015 – 3Q2016). Per the CT DMV, CT netted $15.6 million in registration fees from out-of-state fleets for the last year of available data (12/01/15 to 11/30/16).”
Mr. Sculley’s testimony also discussed a federal prohibition on tolling existing lanes on existing interstates, as well as concerns about the efficiency of tolling as a revenue raiser.