2/15/2009Connecticut Governor Plans to Charge Drivers $171 Million
Connecticut motorists will pay $171 million more in non-tax increases to help balance the state budget.
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell (R) is proposing a budget that increases the financial burden on drivers by $171 million in order to close the state's growing $850 million deficit. Rell's plan increases license and registration fees, imposes freeway speed cameras and assesses new charges on speeding tickets. If implemented, the programs would represent a permanent and steadily increasing source of revenue for the state.
"Governor Rell has produced a two-year spending plan that does not rely on any increased taxes," the official budget summary explained. "The governor is keenly aware that the last thing our economy needs now is more money flowing from taxpayers' wallets into the government's hands."
Under the proposal, $70 million a year would flow from the wallets of drivers into the hands of a private company operating four speed cameras on Interstate 95. That company would then place $35 million into the government's hands after accounting for the expenses of operating the fixed and mobile devices. Rell has already put pressure on the state police to meet budget targets by increasing the number of speeding citations issued. The force responded with a sixteen percent boost that brought the total number of tickets issued last year to 75,000.
As more drivers get those speeding tickets, more would qualify for the proposed "driver responsibility program" that would impose a point and citation tax of up to $2000 on ticket recipients. The same idea has succeeded in bringing over a billion dollars in revenue to Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas (details). Rell's budget conservatively estimated the new revenue at $27 million plus another $32.5 million from increasing the base cost of speeding tickets. In Virginia the abuser fee concept was so unpopular that Governor Tim Kaine (D) was forced last year not only to repeal the law but also to refund the fees already collected, admitting that the program failed to improve public safety.
Rell rounded out her proposal by "updating" driver's license and registration fees so that motorists would hand over another $72.4 million to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
The full plan requires approval of the state legislature which last year turned down the speed camera idea when the budget deficit stood at just $165 million.