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Malloy Would Support A Constitutional Amendment For Transportation Funding

by Christine Stuart | Aug 25, 2014 3:32pm
(14) Comments | Log in to Post a Comment
Posted to: Election 2014, Taxes, State Capitol, Transportation

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Standing near the Old Main Street bridge in Rocky Hill, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared that he had “no problem” with a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the legislature from raiding the special transportation fund.

He said when it comes to funding roads, bridges, and transit he believes his administration is spending more money on transportation “than any other administration.”

“You can slice this and dice this on an accounting basis . . . but when everything is said and done, we’re spending more than any other administration,” Malloy said Monday.

Between 2005 and 2014 about $1.3 billion raised by the gross receipts tax — one of the state’s two gasoline taxes — has been spent on non-transportation programs. But Malloy’s administration said that doesn’t tell the whole story since most of that happened during the previous administration.

According to the Malloy administration, the average investment in transportation under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell was $1.097 billion. Under the Malloy administration it’s been $1.265 billion. Rell was in office for six years. Malloy has been in office for three and a half years.

However, the Malloy administration has moved money between the special transportation account and the general fund. Malloy argued the amount being spent on transportation is still higher than in the past so the transfers between the special transportation fund and the general fund are negligible.

“If there are transfers back and forth for accounting purposes, on a net basis and a gross basis we’re spending more money,” Malloy said Monday.

The governor said Monday that his transportation investments are 165 percent greater than the ones approved under Rell in 2010.

Malloy’s Republican opponent, Tom Foley, believes the governor hasn’t upheld his end of the bargain when it comes to funding transportation.

Foley’s campaign considers the decision not to dedicate the full amount of tax revenue from the gross receipts tax to the special transportation fund to be a “raid.”

During a debate prior to the Republican primary, Foley said he would not have supported the increase in the gross receipts tax that helps support transportation. He said he supports improving transportation infrastructure and would use “savings” from other parts of the budget to do it, but didn’t offer any specific examples of how he would fund it.

Christine Stuart photo

Old Main Street bridge

Last year, Malloy signed legislation that would statutorily require the legislature — starting next July — to use all the revenue from the tax to go to the special transportation fund.

Rep. David Scribner, the ranking Republican member of the Transportation Committee, attended Malloy’s press conference Monday.

“I’d rather it not be political because we worked together to accomplish this,” Scribner said in response to a question about whether his presence undermined Foley’s argument.

Scribner said he would like to see a constitutional amendment because, “we all know statutes can be changed.”

“It’s a lot more difficult to unravel,” a constitutional amendment Scribner said. “I’d rather get the public’s thumbprint and their commitment on that because I think we’d get it.”

Three-fourths of the General Assembly would need to approve a constitutional amendment before it goes to the voters in the next statewide election. A bill that called for a constitutional amendment was passed by the Transportation Committee last year, but never made it to the House or the Senate.

Scribner said a constitutional amendment would have to be initiated by the legislature, so it won’t necessarily be up to the governor.

“If it’s good statutorily, it’s just as good and better to be constitutional because it will stick,” Scribner said.

Malloy’s office, not his campaign, held the press conference Monday to tout the additional $25 million over the last two years the state has dedicated to the local bridge program. In Connecticut, there are more than 3,400 bridges and culverts on municipally maintained roads.

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(14) Comments

posted by: ocoandasoc | August 25, 2014  5:07pm

So let me see if I have this straight… The Governor is saying that despite the fact that transportation tax revenue is still being used extensively for non-transportation projects and to cover other holes in the State budget, CT taxpayers should be satisfied because his administration is spending a little more for actual transportation projects than the previous Governor’s? Really? Hmmm…. I wonder if that includes the busway money…..

posted by: Commuter | August 25, 2014  7:35pm

Don’t get it twisted, ocoandasoc. Malloy spent hundreds of millions of dollars more (not a little more).

In other words, Foley (as usual) is misrepresenting the truth - this is sometimes referred to as “lying.”

And, the governor signed a bipartisan bill that makes it a matter of law that 100% of the transportation fund be spent on transportation. And would probably support a constitutional amendment to that effect.

Kind of difficult to see how you could get confused by that.

posted by: Noteworthy | August 25, 2014  8:31pm

Malloy is spending more. Well that certainly is no surprise. He sure is. But when it comes to transportation, the money he is spending, is bonded money - it’s debt. It is not cash is it? The gross receipts tax money was supposed to among other things, pay for tank removal and be an insurance policy for gas stations against ground water contamination. Malloy ended that program and has stiffed some $100 million in claims. Meanwhile, the gas tax money has been used for many other purposes than transportation. If Malloy has spent more on roads than Rell, then it is coming from debt which is why we have the highest per capita debt in the nation.

posted by: dano860 | August 25, 2014  9:35pm

To start with this is nothing but an attempt to buy more union votes.
The gross receipt tax was intended to be a temporary tax, it had a ‘sunset date that they abolished, I believe. If the regular tax was increased by a single digit percentage and left to untouched, by Statute, we would be in the cash for road and infrastructure maintenance. The Constitution isn’t for accounting purposes in my way of thinking. That may be too simplistic but we operate our daily business by Statutes for the most part.
They are being nice calling it a ‘raid’ of the transportation fund, it is more like a ‘rape’.
What Dannel is saying is that he has robbed the fund to cover other expenses at the safety of the residents and other highway users. Dannel is saying that he has taken more than the Rell administration. Doing this type of financing means that they didn’t have to do any hard thinking about which of the under performing functions in the State should be de-funded. They just go to the bonding commission window to borrow more money for the transportation folks. It’s nothing more than a shifty business does with two sets of books.
If the legislature has any gumption and guts they will NOT mess with the Constitution. It’s time to take a stand on the rampant, out of control spending in this State.
Cut the free loader programs and under performing agencies, it take guts and a business person to do that. Someone with no political ties.

posted by: ASTANVET | August 26, 2014  6:16am

a constitution is suppose to be the bedrock of a civil society, the governing principles by which we co-exisit and execute the roles of government.  It should not be a political tool used in a campaign or changed for whatever suits a politicians fancy.  The bottom line is that if a constitution can be changed on a whim, then the society by which it is based is not stable or predictable… that is not a good place for a state/nation to be in.

posted by: Commuter | August 26, 2014  7:05am

@ Noteworthy of course they’re using bonding. Transporation infrastructure has a long life - decades. It’s exactly the kind of thing you want to use bonds (which have a long life) for. You pay for the work now, when the cost of it is less than it will be ten years from now due to inflation, and you get the advantage of inflation - $100 million ten years from now will be significantly “cheaper” than it is today. Pretty basic stuff.

You’re conflating (and perhaps confusing) two different things: capital expenditures and cash management. What has happened with the money in the transportation fund has simply been that it was utilized in a more effective way to operate the overall enterprise - just like any savvy executive team should be doing. Capital expenditures with long lives - particularly transportation infrastructure - should be bonded.

Foley knows full well that this criticism is pure crap, designed to mislead low-information voters.

posted by: Commuter | August 26, 2014  7:14am

@ dano860 - can we agree that neither of us is an expert on the minutiae of tax policy?

And a little hyperbole never hurt anybody, but let’s dispense with the ill-advised co-opting of a term like “rape” to describe a cash management technique.

Your characterization of how the bond money is being used is wrong on every count, incidentally. A familiarity with accounting ought to prevent this.

Foley hasn’t put forward a single proposal to explain what he would do differently - not one. In fact, a lot of what he does say is right out of Malloy’s campaign or what Malloy is actually doing.

How much of a rube does one have to be to buy that “I’m a businessman” nonsense? Foley hasn’t a clue.

posted by: cjn | August 26, 2014  8:37am

This dog and pony show about transportation gets hauled out every election cycle.  Who is Malloy kidding other than himself. 
By the time a Constitutional amendment gets passed our roads and bridges will be in worse shape than now and hopefully we won’ see another Mianus River Bridge collapse while we’re waiting.
I spend more than Rell did is a laughable defense.  He’s still raiding the fund to make up for shortages in the general fund and will be until he’s voted out.
He says nothing about abolishing the union only contracts to do the work.  The cost overruns and final tab to the taxpayers will be massive.
It’s time for the union controlled Democrats to go, they’re all talk and no guts.

posted by: jim black | August 26, 2014  9:14am

Something else for Malloy to start ignoring immediately.

posted by: cttruck | August 26, 2014  11:45am

No legislature can, by statute, bind any other session of the legislature to do or not do anything.  The word “notwithstanding” comes to mind.

More than half the states have passed constitutional provisions to protect their transportation revenues from diversion to other purposes.

The citizens of this state want good transportation infrastructure and they are willing to pay for it with highway user fees like fuel taxes, gross receipts taxes, registration and license fees, transit fares, fines and permit fees.  They just cannot trust their government to spend the money as intended.

And now, talk about tolls begins again.  Discussion of tolling should not even begin until the Citizens of Connecticut pass a constitutional amendment to protect THEIR Special Transportation Fund.

posted by: dano860 | August 26, 2014  12:43pm

@ Commuter, Robbing Peter to pay Paul is all anyone needs to know. I get my information directly from my Democrat legislators. The same ones that say they need a business person in there. Someone that will change the direction of this State. Someone who can act without having the burden of ‘you owe me’ on their backs. The ones who will NOT vote for Dannel again!
We can agree that we aren’t tax experts but we have to question the misuse of dedicated funds. Funds that would have kept us out of transportation rundown. The ones that would have solved the train issues, bridge issues and highway issues. They find it easier to co-op our safety instead of looking at line items for what they are. Also why not have a single tax at the pump? The gross receipt tax at the distributor is in there now. Why do we go to Massachusetts and pay $3.44/ gallon Vs $3.87/ gallon 4 miles over the border in Ct. You have to know that companies don’t pay taxes, they pass them on to the customer.
As far as using ‘rape’ as a verb it is accurate. To plunder, despoil, to seize, take or carry off by force. You probably misuse the word ‘gay’ also. It is not a proper description or term for a homosexual.

posted by: art vandelay | August 26, 2014  3:46pm

art vandelay

Amendment 28 of the Connecticut State Constitution ratified on November 25th 1992 established a spending cap.  The amendment was a direct result of the implementation of the state income tax in 1991.  It was introduced so as certain Democrat members of the legislature would be enticed into voting for a piece of legislation they did not have their hearts into.  It was Weicker’s “dangling carrot” if you will.

I can’t count the number of times this amendment was skirted or simply ignored since its inception.  The same thing will happen if a Constitutional amendment is enacted to lock gas taxes or tolls into a “locked fund”.  Legislators will find ways to open it.

posted by: Commuter | August 27, 2014  12:57am

@ dano860 way to bring some specifics! Let’s do this.

“...is all anyone needs to know.” Soon as you say this, I’m pretty sure you’re full of it.

“I get my information directly from my Democrat legislators. The same ones that say they need a business person in there. ...”

Are you saying that there are Democratic State Representatives or Senators that are telling you that they do not support Malloy and want to see Foley governor? Got two words for you: Horse. Sh*t. And two more: Prove. It. You, sir, are lying or, much more likely, misinterpreting them dodging you.

“We can agree that we aren’t tax experts but we have to question the misuse of dedicated funds.”
Here, again, you don’t seem to have read the piece you are commenting on, nor the subject it is covering. The legislature passed and the governor signed legislation that corrected the very fact that the legislature was not as a matter of law misappropriating anything. The law the governor announced makes that use of those funds - as a matter of law (not mere hyperbole) - restricted to transportation.

“Funds that would have kept us out of transportation rundown. The ones that would have solved the train issues, bridge issues and highway issues.”
How can you spend so much time commenting and still not be acquainted with the facts? The state is BILLIIONS behind on it’s transportation investments because of two GOP-created problems:
- First, at the state level, spending was sub-standard for at least six Rowland / Rell Administrations; and
- Second, the US House of Representatives, under the control (not - in any meaningful sense - leadership) of the tea partyistas, have refused to address the need for strategic commitments to fund infrastructure.

It was under Republican governors that the legislature found it “easier to co-op our safety instead of looking at line items for what they are.” No more.

“As far as using ‘rape’ as a verb it is accurate. To plunder, despoil, to seize, take or carry off by force. You probably misuse the word ‘gay’ also. It is not a proper description or term for a homosexual.”
OK, some free advice from someone who knows: when you say something STUPID online, don’t compound by saying something demonstrating just how IGNORANT and PRESUMPTUOUS you are in an attempt to defend the indefensible. And remember, we’re speaking pseudononymously - you’ve no idea who is on the other side of the conversation - so assume as little as possible.

That said, specifics appreciated.

posted by: dano860 | August 27, 2014  8:39am

Commute, I don’t have to prove anything, from their lips to my ears, they will NOT be voting for Dannel again! I am not ignorant enough to disclose my sources. They equate Dannel to a robber baron.
Other States get along w/out excessive taxing, why doesn’t Ct try it?
As far as who is on the other side it really doesn’t matter, humans are just that and ideas flow freely no matter who provides them.
As I have said in posts years ago, demeaning a fellow blogger does not advance the debate or issue, it only brings it down to a street fight level.
Don’t twist your shorts in a bunch, have a cup of tea and chill.
The November story will evolve and neither of us will change our minds as to the way we will vote. You will cancel mine and I yours.
Have an enjoyable day, ‘nuf said.