Connecticut Republicans in the House of Representatives have used a parliamentary maneuver to force a public hearing on a bill to eliminate Connecticut’s highway use tax on trucks, arguing the tax increases the cost of food and goods.

House Republican leaders Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, and Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, said in a press release they’ve secured the necessary 51 petition signatures to force a public hearing on House Bill 5290, which eliminates the tax, after Democrat leadership in the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee refused to hear it.

“Many members of the General Assembly proposed this legislation on behalf of their constituents, and the committee’s failure to raise the bill meant a large swath of Connecticut residents would be silenced,” Cheeseman said, who serves as ranking member on the Finance Committee. “That’s unacceptable given the far-reaching, negative impact this tax will have on the cost of living here, and I’m thrilled my caucus colleagues joined me in petitioning to deliver a public hearing that will give everyone an opportunity to be heard on the most important issue we face—affordability.”

Passed by the General Assembly in 2021 over Republican opposition, the highway use tax levies a tax on trucking companies based on the truck’s weight and the number of miles it travels in the state. Passage came after a two-year battle over tolls which, at various points, would have applied only to trucks.

The highway use tax was heavily opposed by the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, which represents truckers, and other business and retail associations, arguing the costs of the tax would merely add a burden to the trucking industry and the costs would be passed down to consumers in the form of higher prices.

“Grocery stores, gas stations, and other retailers will see higher costs to obtain the products that they ultimately sell to Connecticut consumers,” wrote a coalition of business associations in a 2021 letter to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “Because 98% of Connecticut’s freight is transported by truck, its repercussions will be felt by nearly all businesses and consumers in the state, through higher operating costs and higher consumer prices.”

The highway use tax, which just took effect this year, is projected to bring between $90 and $100 million per year to the Special Transportation Fund (STF) over the next few years. 

Like Connecticut’s General Fund, the STF has experienced increased revenues since the pandemic and appears poised to have positive balances through 2026, despite a temporary suspension of the state’s gasoline excise tax during a period of record high gas prices. 

But the potential loss of the truck tax revenue could jeopardize those positive balances, which dwindle away quickly according to the governor’s budget projections, going into deficit by 2027.  

The governor’s office and the Department of Transportation have been ramping up hiring efforts in order to take advantage of federal infrastructure funds to complete Connecticut projects, which will require matching funds and bonding through the STF. The highway use tax is seen as a way to help finance those projects and match federal funding.

Even with a public hearing, repealing the tax is likely a long shot with the governor having supported the highway use tax as a revenue generator for the STF and the General Assembly maintaining a strong Democrat majority. 

Republicans, however, have remained steadfast in their opposition to the tax, arguing it should be repealed since its passage two years ago, particularly during a time of high inflation and concerns about the cost of living in Connecticut.

“Before this legislation was adopted, we heard over and over from trucking company owners who warned us of the trickle-down impact of this tax, which will cause residents to pay more for basic services and goods such as groceries,” Candelora said. “Now that we’ve raised our bill, Democrats who have gotten more comfortable talking about the affordability crisis they helped create should put their money where their mouths are and encourage citizens and business owners in their districts to testify when a hearing date is set.”

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Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels,...

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1 Comment

  1. This tax was just another Democratic move for redistributing n of wealth. It is not good for anyone. They take from the trucking businesses who pass the cost along until the taxpayers pay higher prices for goods. The higher prices generate higher sales taxes and those along with the highway taxes are collected. Everyone struggles with the higher costs but the state takes the money and hands it over to the poorest to help them through new and existing programs that consume half the revenue just to hand out the other half. Open you eyes everyone. They do everything they can steal from successful people, keep the middle class struggling to pay bills while not qualifying for any assistance and keeping the poor, poor and standing in lines with their hands out as they brainwash their kids in school, give them extra incentives before elections, and support them enough where they have no incentive to become middle class and worry about the bills. The only beneficiary from this tax is the state and it’s democratic lawmakers.

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