The Special Transportation Fund is a portion of state money set aside only for transportation. Revenue flows into the fund from sources like the gross receipts tax, the gas tax, motor carrier taxes, and DMV fees, which makes sense as they’re all related to transportation and the expensive-to-maintain road system (public transit has its own revenue stream — fares).
In theory this sounds great. We pay taxes on gas, which we use to drive all over the roads, and those taxes help pay to fix the roads back up.
If only it were that simple. The reason this amendment is long overdue is because of the General Assembly’s massive impulse control problem. When the budget gets tight, legislators’ eyes have sometimes turned toward the Special Transportation Fund, and that cash finds its way into the General Fund instead.
This happens despite the fact that there’s a law on the books saying touching that money for anything, but transportation is forbidden! But thanks to a complicated legal theory that says one legislature can’t impose its will on any following legislatures, that law is essentially unenforceable.
Therefore, when the legislature voted to send this amendment to the people, they were in essence begging us to save them from themselves. We delivered. Here’s the text of the new amendment to the state constitution:
The Special Transportation Fund shall remain a perpetual fund. The general assembly shall direct the resources of said fund solely for transportation purposes, including the payment of debt service on obligations of the state incurred for transportation purposes. Sources of funds, moneys and receipts of the state credited, deposited or transferred to said fund by state law on or after the effective date of this amendment shall be credited, deposited or transferred to the Special Transportation Fund, so long as such sources are authorized by statute to be collected or received by the state, or any officer thereof, and the general assembly shall enact no law authorizing the resources of said fund to be expended other than for transportation purposes.
So now what?
The immediate impact will be felt in January when the next session of the legislature meets and the tough discussions about how to fill yet another massive budget gap begin. Transportation funding will be protected from whatever fiscal apocalypse awaits us, which, in a state where so much of our infrastructure is rapidly decaying, is a relief.
That doesn’t mean transportation programs will be adequately funded, however. In fact, because cars are getting more fuel efficient, money from the gas tax in the fund has been slowly dwindling over time. That means that unless lawmakers raise existing transportation taxes and fees or add a new source of revenue, we’ll be just as bad off as we are now, if not worse.
That’s a major problem with the lockbox — it doesn’t specify funding levels or any kind of consistency, just that certain pots of money are off-limits for general spending. And while it does ensure that revenue from a tax or fee can’t be removed from the lockbox unless the entire tax or fee is repealed, it also doesn’t mandate that if one source of money goes away it be replaced by something else.
In short, future legislatures could let the Special Transportation Fund wither and die on the vine by repealing entire taxes and then turning around to pass new ones that can go in the general pot.
If we do end up with tolls on the roads, this is one of the dangers. The legislature will likely specify that the revenue from tolls be solely directed to transportation, but they don’t have to. Since the lockbox amendment only applies to revenue explicitly designated for the Special Transportation Fund, the easiest way around it would be to leave that designation off the bill.
Imagine this scenario: the legislature enacts tolls and promises to cut or even get rid of the gas tax as an incentive for people not to flip out. If toll money can go into the general fund because it’s not designated for transportation only, then the fund is going to dry up fast.
Other states with lockboxes like this have struggled, because a lockbox like this does require a certain amount of good faith on the part of the legislature which, surprise, is never forthcoming.
That means that we’re going to have to be vigilant. When tolls come — and they will — the revenue from them must be specifically dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund. If that doesn’t happen, we could find ourselves going through an awful lot of pain for nothing.
For this reason, insufficient transportation funding and mismanagement of spending on projects presents a major roadblock to Connecticut’s economic recovery.
The unacceptable state of our infrastructure has a direct impact on all residents, making commuting a nightmare while constraining existing businesses and dooming many newer ones. A study by U.S. News & World Report named Connecticut’s transportation system the third worst in the nation overall, with the very worst road quality out of all 50 states. Meanwhile, rail and bus services are threatened with cuts on an almost annual basis.
A major cause of our transportation woes is a state legislature that has made a habit out of raiding money earmarked for transportation from the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and sweeping it into the abyss of the General Fund, where they can use it to fund “pet projects,” to maintain entitlement programs and to plug holes in the billion dollar budget deficits that have presented themselves annually for the past decade.
To address this misuse of your tax dollars, I, along with my Republican colleagues, have proposed that the State Constitution be amended to prevent the legislature from using STF dollars for any purpose other than transportation, with clear definitions of what constitutes “transportation purposes.” Further, we proposed that the Connecticut Supreme Court be given jurisdiction in the event the legislature violates the constitutional lockbox.
That way, current and future revenue streams intended to support the STF and improve our infrastructure could not be diverted for other purposes, transportation spending could be prioritized, and we could eventually shift towards finding ways to reduce the tax burden on Connecticut residents.
Following our lead, the majority party proposed and passed a Resolution that will appear on the ballot this November, which, at first glance, appears to create the constitutional “lockbox” we have been advocating for.
However, upon closer look, there is no definition of what constitutes transportation funding, nor any provisions for recourse if funds are diverted out of the STF for other purposes. Worse, during public debate over the Resolution, the Democrats acknowledged that the “lockbox” could be raided, if needed, for other purposes.
Therein lies the ruse being perpetrated on the public. The ruse to create a lockbox, knowing they have the key to unlock it for more spending. Democrats seem intent not on dedicating transportation revenue for transportation projects that will allow us to eventually improve our infrastructure and decrease taxes and fees, but, instead, to gradually garner popular support for tolls, which will generate an additional revenue stream. Connecticut drivers forced to pay the tolls will be under the illusion that the additional money they will send to Hartford will be used to improve transportation. In reality, though, this lockbox is leaky enough that tolls would merely be another cash cow for the state to feed its reckless spending habits at the taxpayers’ expense.
Accordingly, I urge Connecticut voters to reject their “Lockbox Ruse” and require the legislature to create a real lockbox that takes any vagueness out of what exactly the money is for and empowers our courts to enforce it.The goal for the legislature cannot be to make new taxes, fees, and tolls more palatable, but, instead, to help ease the tax burden on our residents. The “lockbox” on the ballot will not help accomplish this goal.
State Rep. Richard Smith represents the 108th district, which includes parts of Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford and all of Sherman. He is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s General Law Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Labor and Public Employees Committee.
THEY ALSO HAVE THE LEGAL TEAM IN PLACE TO GET YOUR REFUND PAID BACK TO YOU! THIS IS A ONE STOP PROGRAM AND WE ARE URGING ALL GASOLINE RETAILERS, BODY SHOPS, TOWING OPERATORS, CAR WASH OPERATORS AND REPAIR SHOPS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS FREE SERVICE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TOO LOSE AND IT COSTS YOU NOTHING TO FIND OUT IF YOU HAVE BEEN OVERCHARGED.
CALL NOW 203-327-4773 OR EMAIL ME TO FIND OUT MORE firstname.lastname@example.org!
Please look at the attached notice that dealers in New Jersey and New York are getting from a law firm threatening to sue dealers for over $100,000 in potential damages. The dealers and their Associations are taking this action very serious and as such so should each and every retailer in Connecticut. There may be other law firms that will jump on this as well and if you receive ANY NOTICE FOR ANY LAW FIRM about items you may or may NOT be selling in your stores, we are asking they you let us know and copy us as well as seeking legal counsel.
We suggest, that you contact John Morgan 203-356-1595 who knows about the issue and we are going to be working with New York and New Jersey to stay up to date on this matter and if needed forming a group to keep legal expenses from this type of litigation from bankrupting your business.
At this time, we are NOT SURE even if you have insurance for these types of claims, if it would cover you since they are claiming the sales are illegal under Federal Law. THIS IS VERY SERIOUS and why we are reaching out to you. The claims for damages below if found to be turn can run into the millions of dollars! As you can see by the below they are not fooling around – they are dead serious!
Your Profits of the Sale of the Product going back 4-years 15 U.S.C. § 1117
Attorney’s Fees 18 U.S.C. § 1964
Punitive Damages 15 U.S.C. § 1117
Triple Damages 18 U.S.C. § 1964 & 15 U.S.C. § 1117
Michael J. Fox
Right click on the image above to open! It should open in a seperate link!
WE HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH DEEP BUT THEY ARE GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT FINES AS WITH THE BUDGET DEFICET – THEY WANT REVENUE – PLEASE SEE BELOW AND CALL OR EMAIL THE OFFICE IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS!
I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that DEEP’s Recycling Enforcement Initiative (REI) will be focusing on the gas station / mini mart sector in the upcoming year. Prior to actually citing any businesses for non-compliance with state recycling laws, we’d like to collaborate with your organization to provide some outreach and refresh your members on their obligations.
While it’s been 6+ years since we were last in communication on this issue, it appears that non-compliance with recycling requirements is still the norm – at least at the gas stations that I use. I very seldom see any recycling receptacles located either within the mini marts between the islands at the gas pumps. And if a service station does have some sort of bin/dumpster for recyclables in the back of their building, it is often marked for cardboard only.
When haulers enter into contracts to provide trash collection services for their customers, they are also required by law to make provisions for collection of recyclables as well. In this case, “make provisions” means to either offer and provide that service themselves, or to verify that the customer has another contract in place (with a different service provider) for the collection of recyclables. Please be aware that haulers (and processors) are not allowed to collect everything (trash + recyclables) in one dumpster and then “sort it all out” somewhere else.
Please let me know what outreach opportunities might be available from your organization!
Supervising Environmental Analyst
Sustainable Materials Management Planning & Implementation
CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
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Minimum Wage Increase
Something that will directly affect residents is the increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $9.60. Some state lawmakers are pushing for the minimum wage to go up to $15 an hour in the coming years.
Ban the Box
Employers will no longer be legally allowed to ask prospective employees about prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions in an initial employment application unless required to do so under state or federal law or if the employer must obtain a security or fidelity bond.
Another part of the act will establish a task force to study issues of employment opportunities for people with criminal histories.
The movement is commonly called “ban the box,” which refers to the check mark box on job applications that asks about prior convictions and arrests.
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Where you will find the most current stories relating to our Industry and how it could impact you and your business. GASDA will do the work for you and search for all stories and post them here. We search hundreds of State, Federal and local sites for the most up to date information!
As we continue to work on both Legislation on a State & Federal level here will be actual bills with changes as they happen. Once a change is posted to a bill or a bill is introduced GASDA will post it here for your review 24-hours per day, 7-days per week!
Click on View below and then on the Bill Number for all info on that bill including current status and amendments!