Connecticut Residents Oppose New Tolls, Back Taxing the Rich

(Bloomberg) -- Connecticut residents oppose tolling state highways by almost a 2-1 margin, underscoring the challenge Democratic Governor Ned Lamont faces in passing his transportation funding plan during a special session this summer, according to a Sacred Heart University/Hartford Courant poll.

Lamont has proposed tolling all vehicles on Interstates, 84, 91, 95 and 15 beginning in fiscal year 2023 to pay for new roads, bridges and mass transit, arguing that it’s key to economic growth. Residents with a Connecticut EZPass would get a discount. About 59% of Connecticut residents oppose implementing tolls compared with 35% who support the idea, according to the poll.

Still, a wide majority support raising taxes on the rich. More than 70% approve of raising the state income tax on individuals earning $500,000 or couples earning $1 million and two-thirds “strongly” or “somewhat” support a 2% tax on investment earnings.

“Republicans and Democrats alike know how important fixing our transportation system is and speeding up our transportation system is. We have a dispute about how we’re going to pay for it, but we’re going to do that together,” Lamont told the closing convention of the state legislature on June 5.

Republicans want to redirect existing bonding authority to transportation.

Connecticut’s Democrat-controlled legislature approved a $43 billion two-year budget this week that spares residents an income-tax increase and closes a $3.7 billion deficit. The plan increases or expands the sales tax on services on everything from digital downloads to restaurant meals and keeps $2 billion in a rainy-day fund.

Despite an on-time budget that didn’t include broad tax increases, only 24.6% of residents approve of Lamont’s job performance, while 40% disapprove. About 35% were unsure. More than 50% prefer the state to close the current budget deficit by reducing spending and only 4.1% supported raising taxes.

The poll, conducted from May 10 to May 23, has a margin or error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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