Lamont’s plan to rid the roads of the poor

Governor Ned Lamont has a unique strategy to reduce income inequality, at least on the roads of Connecticut: He will prevent the poor from driving on it.

Lamont started 2020 saying he “was doing everything I could to promote public transport and get people out of cars.”

And just before Christmas, the governor signed the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a pact with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC, to artificially raise the cost of gasoline and diesel so that those most price sensitive vehicles drive less and transport – associated greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

TCI limits the amount of fuel that can be sold and would require fuel distributors to participate in auctions to, in essence, purchase an authorization for each gallon they deliver. And each year, TCI would allow fewer gallons in each state, making competition tougher and driving up the price at the pump.

Predictions of how much TCI will increase costs vary. Donors estimated this spring that TCI could finally add up to 26 cents per gallon, although they threw in other numbers.

To be fair, it’s hard to say how gas price hikes (man-made or otherwise) will affect drivers – which is part of the reason why the General Assembly has so far not ratified Connecticut’s accession to the. TCI. As the last few months have shown, individuals and businesses tend to absorb higher fuel costs rather than giving up driving. Connecticut already levies New England highest gasoline tax, adding about 35 cents to the price per gallon (according to the Non-Partisan Tax Foundation) on top of the 18 cents charged by the federal government.

As TCI funders constantly struggle to put a price on the program, which aims to reduce fuel consumption 30 percent by 2032, the most accurate description of the cost impact is “enough to hurt”.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a global concern, but Connecticut’s share has fallen dramatically over the past 15 years. Removing all cars and trucks from the roads of Connecticut would not offset the amount of emissions from China greedy for coal swell over the course of a typical year.

TCI, instead, focuses on residents and businesses of TCI states: even long-haul truckers refueling in New York City, Vermont and New Hampshire would be spared.

Companies of course, may pass some costs on to customers, and no one in Greenwich will leave the BMW in the garage because of the cost of gasoline. But prices raised by TCI could force the single mother and her children to borrow CT Transit when her ten-year-old minivan bites the dust. And this
will be considered a success.

All of a sudden, TCI supporters look like a famous Dickensian character unresponsive to Christmas: is there no bus? Are there no trains?

Adding insult to injury, people who bear the higher costs generated by TCI and continue to drive cannot even rely on smoother driving for their problems.

When Lamont in 2019 proposed to collect tolls on Connecticut highways and bridges, at least drivers were promised better roads and the money would go into the state’s constitutionally protected transport safe. .

But today, Lamont wants to keep every penny that TCI generates

out of the mailbox

. A good half of the money could be diverted to

“Environmental justice”

projects chosen by activists who would use the money to line their pockets instead of potholes.

And if you think making driving more expensive with little in return sounds regressive, you should see how Connecticut would try to tone it down.

TCI supporters, among others, want to spend money on helping people buy electric cars. But the money from the state’s existing electric vehicle subsidy program has flowed disproportionately to its wealthier corners. Residents of Westport (population 27,000) raised more money than residents of Hartford, Bridgeport, New Britain and Waterbury combined (total population: 458,000).

State lawmakers surely do not intend to increase the cost of commuting in eastern Connecticut to put more Tesla in the aisles of Darien.

Then again, who would have thought that Governor Lamont wanted to treat driving like a country club membership?

Carol Platt Liebau is president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a Connecticut-based think tank.

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