By John Gallagher of FreightWaves,
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign a bill passed this week by state lawmakers that, beginning January 2023, will impose a tax of up to 17.5 cents per mile on heavy trucks that use Connecticut’s roadways. The tax,, which trucks would be required to pay in addition to federal fuel taxes, is estimated to generate $45 million in revenue in FY23 and $90 million annually thereafter, and would go toward repairing roads and bridges.
“This small fee on large tractor trailers that are doing 20,000 times the amount of damage as a passenger vehicle is a responsible way to address part of that crisis,” commented state Rep. Roland Lemar, a Democrat.
Most Republicans in the legislature, however, including Rep. Devin Carney, opposed the bill. “I think it’s going to raise costs on food, on things like heating oil, clothing, gasoline — I just think it’s a trickle-down tax that’s very regressive,” Carney said. Joseph Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said that the tax will add a financial burden on in-state trucking companies while out-of-state companies will avoid paying by rerouting around the state.
“One of our members estimated it is going to cost him an additional $200,000 per year, and if he can’t pass the cost down, whether through a line-item fee or by increasing his overall rates, he’ll be out of business,” Sculley told FreightWaves.
In addition, Sculley said, state lawmakers have admitted that the program would be administered using an honor system and that it would not be a priority for roadside law enforcement. “I told every member of the legislature that 20 states have tried it and gave up because they couldn’t make it work.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), four states — Kentucky, New Mexico, New York and Oregon — are levying some form of vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) fee on commercial trucks. Kentucky charges a flat rate of about 3 cents per mile, and the other three charge rates that vary by trucks’ weight, ranging from about 1 to 29 cents per mile, notes a CBO report.
The Connecticut proposal places trucks in 28 weight categories. The rate charged per mile ranges from 2.5 cents for trucks weighing 26,000-28,000 pounds to 17.5 cents for trucks weighing 80,001 pounds and over. The bill requires each carrier to apply to the state’s Department of Revenue Services (DRS) for a highway user tax permit, and would prohibit carriers from operating their trucks in the state without one. Any fees would have to be paid to DRS each month.