On Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation announced that it had dropped plans to participate in a multi-state study of a possible mileage tax.
DOT Commissioner James Redeker sent a letter last week to the I-95 Corridor Coalition, explaining how his state agency is facing large budget cuts that prevent it from providing about $300,000 in state matching funds to help pay for the study, which would measure the effectiveness of a user fee that’s based on how much someone drives.
Even if the state could afford the price of the study, it’s probably the wrong move for Connecticut right now.
One aim of such a tax would be to get out-of-state drivers who use our roads as a pass-through but avoid the state tax on gasoline to pay their fair share.
But it would also, as bi-partisan legislative leaders pointed out, place a financial burden on commuters.
Here, in central Connecticut, we are almost all commuters, traveling alone in our cars, in sharp contrast to our New York City neighbors, many of whom don’t even own a vehicle because their life is contained in one small area.
Over the past 50 years or more, we have become decentralized, with employers no longer clustered in a single area and employees moving further and further out of the city centers, thanks to what was, at one time, relatively inexpensive automobiles. As a result, we saw the disappearance of widespread public transportation.
Long-term, our leaders may be rethinking this pattern but, right now, we shouldn’t be punished for a lifestyle that we inherited.