Tolls make more sense than higher gas tax

Since my column last week, arguing that installing electronic tolls on state highways remains the best means of paying for Connecticut’s transportation needs, an alternative proposal has been placed back on the table — raising taxes. This is what you get, anti-toll folks, because the need to address Interstate 95 congestion, shore up aging bridges and overpasses and provide a modern commuter rail system did not go away with the defeat of Gov. Lamont’s toll proposals. The state Office of Fiscal Analysis recently projected that costs will outstrip revenues by 2024, leaving the Special Transportation Fund insolvent. Using higher gas taxes, as opposed to tolls, to pay for transportation needs means Connecticut residents will continue to provide the bulk of the money to maintain our highways, with millions of out-of-state drivers getting a free ride through the state, unless they choose to gas up here. Gas taxes will provide diminishing returns as motor vehicle efficiency improves and the fleet of hybrid and electric cars expands. Some dandy driving a $140,000 Tesla Model S Plaid won’t be paying for transportation through a gas tax, but a low-income family getting by with a gas-guzzling old minivan sure will.

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