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Do Connecticut businesses support highway tolls?

There is an ongoing debate in Connecticut presently that centers on the wisdom of highway tools being introduced. A recent Hartford Courant article spotlights the stated rationale for the huge cash infusion that would bring to state coffers. The user fees would ostensibly be applied solely toward “much-needed highway, bridge and other public works repairs.”

Is that a good idea? More specifically, do Connecticut business groups generally support it?

That depends on who is being asked the question. There is clearly some enthusiastic endorsement of tolls from prominent business voices within the state.

The Business Council of Fairfield County is one commercial advocacy group that is solidly on board with tolling. A principal with the organization states that improved transportation in Connecticut is vital for economic growth, and that tolling is “the only way” to reasonably fund infrastructure improvements.

Support for that view is evident across the state, but far from universal. In fact, Connecticut’s largest business advocacy group flatly opposes tolling as a funding mechanism. The Connecticut Business & Industry Association formally noted its objection to the idea last week.

What the CBIA centrally promotes is a wait-and-see attitude toward the current state government and the cited pro-growth business policies of Gov. Ned Lamont. An official group statement stresses that, until those policies prove effective as a means for restoring fiscal discipline, it will be “difficult to support adding additional cost burdens, like tolls.”

The toll debate is currently active – and obviously strident – in the state’s General Assembly. That body’s current session is set to adjourn within a few days.

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