Policymakers wrongly targeting small business truckers

Hartford Business Journal Op Ed by MTAC President Joseph Sculley.

Small business trucking companies have so much money, it’s like they are sitting on piles of cash and they don’t know what to do with it.

This must be what some leaders and policymakers in Connecticut, and elsewhere, are currently thinking. It’s the only way to explain recent comments and policy proposals that target the trucking industry.

The truth is that the trucking industry deals with high capital costs, thin profit margins, and many barriers to entry. Most trucking companies, otherwise known as motor carriers, are small businesses.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, 91 percent of motor carriers operate six or fewer trucks. Yet, public policy in Connecticut has been favoring handouts to huge corporations, while making it difficult for small businesses like motor carriers just to get by.

The state Bond Commission recently voted to loan or give $80 million in taxpayer funds to 16 companies to “retain jobs” in Connecticut. In a booming economy, in which the national unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, some large corporations, including a defense contractor and a Fortune 500 company, were given taxpayer money for the unmeasurable purpose of “retaining jobs.” To some, the natural next step is to target small businesses that have to fight hard for every dollar they earn.

This targeting includes talk about higher tolls for trucks, or even tolls only for trucks. These proposals are based on unsubstantiated statements about trucks “tearing up our roads” and doing multiple times more damage to roads than cars. The only thing that is quite literally tearing up our roads is the combination of chemicals applied to them, followed by plows scraping over them to clear snow. But that issue requires a separate discussion.

To see the complete Op Ed by Joseph Sculley in the Hartford Business Journal online.