FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
More Broken Promises from the Governor: Republicans Call for Toll Repeal
Rhode Island Deserves Better Roads and More Honesty
STATE HOUSE -- Today, Representative Patricia Morgan (R-District 26 Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) is calling upon our state's leaders to halt RhodeWorks and return to sound budgeting principles by using existing money in our budget to pay for bridge repairs on the 6/10 highway.
"Last year, when RhodeWorks was rammed through the General Assembly, the Governor's rationale for the tolling and borrowing scheme was the promise that the federal government would provide a $400 million match. However, this summer we learned that Rhode Island's application for federal Fast Track money was rejected. Promise broken,” said Representative Patricia Morgan.
"Another part of the rationale for the installation of perpetual tolls on every major highway in Rhode Island was for a Bus Rapid Transit system that would be incorporated into the 6/10 reconstruction project. This system was viewed as a revitalizing transportation measure that would help low income earners travel to the city for better opportunities. Yet, the Governor announced last week that that idea, too, was being discarded,” Rep. Morgan added.
Representative Morgan continued, "Groups of Rhode Islanders have been advocating for an innovative design for 6/10 reconstruction, that would turn the superhighway structure into a more neighborhood friendly and less expensive boulevard. The Governor and her staff promised an open and thorough study of their concept. That promise, too, has been declared dead.”
"Tolls, which discriminate against one class of trucks and seek to force the trucking industry to repair a transportation grid that has been mismanaged by state leaders for decades, face huge legal challenges. Recently the courts, siding with truckers, ruled against the state of New York, which sought to use truck tolls to repair its canal system. The Governor promised that our tolling scheme would withstand all legal challenges, but failed to produce her evidence for that claim. Another promise that is going to be tested. Her track record seems to indicate that another broken promise is on the horizon.”
As a result of these broken promises, contrived rationales for the passage of harmful tolls, and the serious economic damage that the toll tax will bring to Rhode Island's staggering economy, Representative Patricia Morgan is calling on the state's leadership to halt all work associated with installing tolls in our state. Additionally, when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, the RhodeWorks law must be repealed without delay.
"We were told that this program would be matched with federal money. Since that will not happen, the hundreds of millions of dollars that leadership wanted immediately is no longer needed to match federal grants.”
“The Department of Transportation recently estimated that the cost to repair the infrastructure is less than half the original contrived estimate. However, the current estimated cost can be spread out over 5 years with lower impact to our state budget. Each year, $80 million could be appropriated from the budget."
"From my study of the budget, I am confident that by prioritizing the bridge repairs, we can readily identify the necessary funds within the money we already extract from hardworking Rhode Islanders. In truth, it is less than 1 % of the state budget."
"Given the new scope of work, it is time to stop this entire tolling and borrowing scheme. The smaller rebuild of the existing bridges simply does not require the original price tag. The promises that formed the rationale for installing costly and damaging perpetual tolls throughout Rhode Island have been discarded. Now it's time to discard the detrimental tolls and borrowing."