I get questions from constituents daily about what is going on with the issue of tolls and if they are coming back to our state highways, so I wanted to give you the latest update.
When the legislative session ended on June 5, the legislative Democrats and the Governor promised a special session on tolls due to the lack of time which really meant lack of votes.
Governor Lamont’s 50-gantry plan just did not have the support or votes in the General Assembly, whether it was in regular or a special session. Two months later, in September, the Lamont administration planned to unveil a revamped transportation plan.
Word out of the State Capitol is the new plan might have some sort of tolling aspect, maybe tolls on bridges, but still nothing concrete.
I firmly believe Connecticut needs a state transportation plan and vision for the future with project priorities but I oppose any plan that calls for the establishment of tolls on Connecticut roads. Additionally, the annual state bonding package has been delayed for months as the Governor continues to push for tolls. There is speculation the governor is holding back bonding, including local town/road aid, which includes $30 million for local road repair, tree trimming and winter snow removal, in an effort to win more votes for tolls.
The state borrows the $60 million annually, giving towns half in July and half in January. Many cities and towns rely heavily on the state’s Town Aid Road [TAR] grant, including towns like Prospect, Bethany and Cheshire, to pay for summer road repaving work, fall tree clearing, and winter snow removal.
I call on the Governor and Legislature to release the money promised to our local communities.
Also, a new tax hike I opposed but was still passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor went into effect on Oct. 1. This tax is on the sales of “digital goods” that are electronically accessed or transferred, which includes audio works, visual works, audio-visual works, reading materials or ringtones, and will be subject to sales and use taxes at the standard 6.35 percent rate.
Currently the tax on digital goods is 1 percent.
The new tax rate also applies to a purchased product, like Adobe, that you pay a monthly subscription fee on.
With an increased percentage of digital consumers streaming and downloading their content (music, movies or smartphone apps), as opposed to watching on traditional cable television or listening on the radio, the majority party and the Governor hiked these taxes on countless residents. This is an effort to capture a new revenue stream as people flee cable for lower cost options.
So, if you or your kids are a user/subscriber of Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and/or Amazon Prime, your taxes will increase. Even if you want to download a new book on your Kindle or movie on your iPad, you also will have to pay the increased tax.
It’s just another in a long line of tax and fee increases imposed in the state budget adopted this session by the majority party, most of which impacts working families in Prospect, Cheshire and Bethany.
It is a disgrace that every time state residents find a way to save a little money for their families, the leaders in Hartford have chosen to reach back for more and more of your hard-earned savings instead of looking to control wasteful state spending.
As always, please contact me should you have any questions about these topics or concerns on any other issues relating to state government at Lezlye.Zupkus@housegop.ct.gov or at (800) 842-1423.