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Sen. McLachlan: Highways Tolls Are No Fix for Connecticut’s Problems

Report by Paula Antolini
December 23, 2017 2:29PM EDT

 

 

OPINION

Sen. McLachlan: Highways Tolls Are No Fix for Connecticut’s Problems

Just like a bad penny, calls for highway tolls in Connecticut keep coming back.  Nearly every year for the last decade, a legislator or group has said it’s time for tolls in Connecticut. News-Times contributor Michael Daly said it this past week. (Get with it Connecticut, it’s time for tolls)

I don’t think so.

Sure, other states have tolls, but do they have the same high taxes we pay in Connecticut? Because no matter how you paint this as a horse of a different color, tolls are a tax. Tolls take money out of residents and businesses pockets to give to the state. I’d say the state has its hand too deep into taxpayers’ pockets now without tolls.

I’m sure Mr. Daly sees a number of out-of-state license plates on cars travelling Connecticut’s highways. That doesn’t mean they are out–of-state residents. Ask any town about the problem of residents registering their cars in another state to avoid property taxes. It’s an issue that, as a legislator, I have tried to help towns resolve.

If people go to great lengths to avoid paying local property taxes, how far will they go to avoid paying tolls? Highways are not the only way in or out of Connecticut or the only way to get around within our state’s borders. How will our communities pay for the increased wear and tear on local roads? What impact will increased congestion have on safety?

I have said many times that border tolls would have a negative impact on the City of Danbury. That is still true. From people who cross the border to shop at the Danbury Fair Mall to people who cross the border to work in New York every day, tolls will have a negative impact. Customers may shop elsewhere, or if they still come to the mall, just like our out-of-state workers, they will have less money to spend.

Tolls may seem like an easy way to make money, but so was the lottery, so was the income tax, and so were the casinos. Eventually, they all missed revenue expectations.

Install tolls and they may be used by Connecticut residents to make one final payment as they drive out of the state and never look back.

State Senator Michael McLachlan represents the 24th District, which includes the communities of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Sherman.

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