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Gov. Malloy's Transportation Finance Panel Holds First Meeting

A non-partisan working group to help find funding options for Connecticut's transportation infrastructure overhaul met for the first time on Tuesday.

Governor Dannel Malloy's Transportation Finance Panel was created to "analyze and recommend financing options" for the state's transportation infrastructure improvements over the next three decades.

Some ideas floated include highway tolls, private-sector sponsorships, and asset sales. Budget chief Ben Barnes also suggested changes to existing taxes, automating traffic enforcement, and congestion pricing on the highways as potential sources of revenue.

Malloy in February proposed a $100 billion long-term transportation vision for the state along with a $10 billion five-year ramp-up plan. The plans cite public demand for decreased congestion and quality of life improvements that will ease access to jobs, and "vibrant, transportation-friendly urban centers" to grow the economy.

"It would be easy for me not to have laid this out," Malloy told the working group at the start of the meeting. "I could’ve, in essence, done what other politicians in my position have done, and that is kick the can down the road. I made a definitive decision that I owed it to people of Connecticut to speak the truth about where we are, and the impacts it’s having on our economic growth."

Listen below to Malloy's full remarks:

DOT Commissioner James Redeker made a presentation during the meeting detailing transportation overhaul needs and goals. Toward the end, he took a question from chairman Cameron Staples: how was the $100 billion figure arrived at for the 30-year plan?

Redeker said they've made their best guess at what the plan would cost in "today's dollars," but thinking 30 years ahead is hard. "Sometimes it helps to go backwards," he said. "I think about what budgets were like in transportation 30 years ago. ...If 30 years ago, you asked me would my budget be $1.4 billion a year now? There's no way in the world that could've happened. But it did."

Listen below to Staples's question, and Redeker's answer:

Malloy has asked the panel to recommend some ways to pay for the transportation plan by the end of the summer.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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