Report by Paula Antolini
May 25, 2017 10:20PM EDT
Sen. Boucher: ‘Putting a Final Stake in the Heart of the Mileage-Driven Tax Proposal’
As Co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, I am happy to report that today, in a show of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate unanimously passed SB 76, An Act Concerning The Power Of The Commissioner Of Transportation To Conduct A Mileage Tax Study With State Funds. All 36 members of the Senate previously signed-on to take ownership of the bill.
The passage of this bill is a victory for state drivers. We don’t need to study something that Connecticut taxpayers are against. With the passage of this bill, the state cannot expend any state funds for a mileage-base user fee unless it is first approved by the legislature by a simple majority.
As many people may recall, on August 30, 2016, Connecticut was awarded a federal grant to launch a pilot mileage tax program so long as the state invested a matching $300,000. Connecticut was among a group of Northeastern states to receive the grant after an application was filed by the state of Delaware on behalf of the I-95 Corridor Collation Members.
It was disturbing that, as a member of the Transportation Committee, we had to learn about this grant from an article in the Washington Post newspaper. We didn’t learn about this proposal from the DOT or the administration, and the news broke while we were out of legislative session.
To add insult to injury, this announcement ignored the Transportation committee’s rejection of the 2015 Governor’s Transportation Finance Task Force’s mileage driven proposal. At that time, we debated several ideas to fund the Governor’s transportation plan. One of the items debated was a mileage-driven tax, which was roundly opposed at that time.
So you can imagine our surprise when we learned that $300,000 was slated to be spent on the very proposal we rejected.
I immediately opposed the mileage-based tax proposal because I knew it would hurt middle and lower income workers the hardest. Many of Connecticut’s residents drive long distances to earn a paycheck to support their families, but the state continues to take more and more money from their pockets. With a mileage-driven tax, those workers who have to travel the furthest to earn enough money to pay their bills would be penalized for their efforts.
Another issue with a mileage-driven tax is implementation. How would the mileage be tracked? How would it account for Connecticut businesses and residents that travel extensively out of state? How would it collect the tax from out-of-state drivers?
Because such a tax would involve some way of monitoring driving activity, it not only represented another tax on an already over-taxed public, it represented a government intrusion into their lives. What would be done with this information about where a vehicle has travelled? Who would have access to this information? How long would it be kept? Talk about Big Brother tracking your every move.
Thankfully, we have driven a stake through the heart of this intrusive tax. My Senate Republican colleague Len Suzio introduced SB 76. This legislation, which was strongly supported by Republicans and Democrats alike in the Senate, will make sure no state resources are used to study, pilot, or implement a mileage-driven tax.
Connecticut will not become the first state in the nation to monitor our taxpayers’ every move and tax them on every mile they drive.
State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) is Co-chair of the Transportation Committee and represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.