The State Bond Commission has given the go-ahead to a controversial study of tolls.
Wednesday's approval followed a lengthy discussion over whether Governor Dannel Malloy should have issued an executive order calling for the $10 million study. Malloy is not seeking re-election and critics say such a study should be left up to the next governor and General Assembly. Malloy said that finding a vendor to do the study will take at least nine months. He says that means a new Governor and a new legislature can do whatever they please if they disagree with this action, before one dollar is spent.
Malloy added that transportation project studies have been done in the past and questioned why money can’t be spent to understand how the state would actually fund those same projects over the next thirty years.
Malloy also made a comparison to Indiana, run by a Republican legislature and governor. He noted that Indiana recently spent the same amount on a toll feasibility study. In making his case, Malloy also said that tolls can only be enacted by the legislature and the bond item would only study various options for raising revenue to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Danbury Representative David Arconti is on the record against tolls. While he agreed action has to be taken to ensure transportation infrastructure meets the needs of state residents, Arconti says spending $10 million for a study is ill advised. He believes the Governor is overstepping his authority and seeking an unnecessary allocation at taxpayer expense.
Kent Representative Brian Ohler called the executive order a side-step of the public process and a blatant, malicious misuse of taxpayers dollars.
Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson says the study ignores the ‘will of the people’ who voiced loud opposition to tolling, and is a waste of tax dollars that could and should be spent on helping the state's most vulnerable residents.
Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding said the money should be instead used for recovery from the May 15th storms.