Would-be lieutenant governor Joe Markley challenges Malloy’s toll study
By Bill Cummings, The CT Post, August 7, 2018
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HARTFORD — A top Republican state senator is asking a court to stop Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $10 million study to explore placing tolls on state highways.
State Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, on Tuesday filed an injunction in Hartford Superior Court to block the study ordered by the governor and authorized by the State Bond Commission.
Markley, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, said that while the bond commission is empowered to borrow funds for a variety of reasons the action must come after the legislature authorizes spending. The General Assembly during the last session failed to approve a bill authorizing a similar study, he noted.
"I don’t think the governor has the power to make the expenditure without the legislature authorizing it," Markley said.
"It’s not just a reckless waste of money now — it sets a precedent for future executive overreach," said Markley.
"Even by Dan Malloy’s standards, this is an arrogant abuse of power, coming at the expense of Connecticut’s citizens and laws," Markley said.
The study will explore using electronic tolls to fund future transportation projects. The detailed look is designed to examine possible toll rates and where they could be placed, including the Merritt Parkway, I-95, I-81, I-91 and other four-lane state routes.
The General Assembly’s Republican minority is adamantly opposed to tolls while many Democrats say the potential $1 billion in annual revenue may be the only way to improve the state’s highways and relieve congestion that’s choking parts of the state — especially Fairfield County — and preventing business and job growth.
Kelly Donnelly, Malloy’s spokesperson, said the bond commission acted legally.
"As Attorney General Jepsen made clear during the bond commission meeting, Gov. Malloy is well within his right to allow this study to proceed," Donnelly said.
"Sen. Markley is just plain wrong," Donnelly said. "And quite frankly, when it comes to modernizing an aging infrastructure and building the kind of transportation system Connecticut deserves, he has subscribed to the modern day ‘know-nothing’ philosophy — proactively choosing to know less, rejecting options before even fully understanding them, and doing nothing."
Republicans have proposed funding highway and bridge improvements through state bonding, which means also reducing other state spending. Malloy and Democrats argue the GOP plan falls far short of garnering the money needed to improve transportation.
Markley said no issue enrages voters more than the idea of highway tolls.
“I’ve seen Malloy throw his power around before, but never so blatantly,” Markley said. “The legislature had every opportunity to authorize a study at half the cost last session, but, in the face of public opposition, it decided to take no action.”
Markley added “Malloy’s insistence on moving forward on his own, in cahoots with his State Bond Commission appointees, has left people mad as hell.”