FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monique Chartier Tel: 401-261-0508
Larry Fitzmorris Tel: 401-835-5136
Larry Girouard Tel: 401-640-7584
Tony Viveiros Tel: 401-855-1846
Former East Bay Anti-Tolls Group Joins Forces With Other Groups To Fight Raimondo Truck Toll Plan As New Group: www.StopTollsRI.com
Supports Alternative Funding Plan & Applauds Demands for Gantry Locations
Members of the citizens group who came together to fight the Sakonnet Bridge Toll plan in the East Bay two years ago, have joined with several other advocates to form a new group aimed at stopping the Raimondo Truck-Toll plan from advancing this winter. The new group, StopTollsRI.com, says the Governor’s bridge repair plan, involving what will amount to $1.2 billion in borrowing costs, is a fiscally dangerous and woefully misguided approach which will ultimately saddle taxpayers with huge debt while enriching Wall Street banks, drive out small businesses, and further set back the state’s troubled economy.
“We believe we need to fight this plan in rapid fashion on multiple fronts,” says group spokesman Larry Fitzmorris. “We dispute the Governor’s contention that the tolls on trucks alone will ultimately be adequate to pay down the debt because there is so much inherent risk in the assumptions used. We plan to engage the public and take our fight to the Legislature this January so that lawmakers know their constituents are watching.” Fitzmorris continued, “While we wholeheartedly support Speaker Mattiello’s demand, and the Truckers Association’s recent request, that the gantry locations be made public, it won’t change our desire to see the plan squashed.”
Governor Raimondo’s Truck-Toll plan has been subject to multiple changes since first proposed, and in its current version, truck toll revenue projections are already 40% lower than first laid out, the cost of borrowing has increased by 69% and the length of time taxpayers will be paying for repairs has doubled from 15 years to 30 years. Though this legislation stalled last June, every indication is that the plan has traction for the approaching new session.
“We are dismayed that comments by Speaker Mattiello indicate he is intent on moving the Truck-Toll plan through the 2016 session in some form or another,” continues Fitzmorris. “Before this gets any further in the Legislature, we want the RI public to understand that there are so many flaws in the plan it is virtually guaranteed to become a toll on all vehicles, including cars.”
StopTollsRI.com says other proposals that have emerged would more effectively and efficiently repair RI’s bridges, and offer better protection to the taxpayers, including the Republican Policy Group’s pay-as-you-go plan, which calls for a reasonable reprioritization of spending taxpayer dollars; as well as the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s public/private partnership proposal.
Group member Larry Girouard, who is also President of RI Taxpayers, says: “RI cannot afford to set policies that continue to create a hostile business environment. In fact, it must reverse course and create a more business friendly environment. The Republican group’s plan is a win-win. It does not bury taxpayers in debt, provides more money for bridge repair, and costs less than the Governor’s plan over a 10-year period. There is no reason bridge repair cannot be funded from current revenues with a budget the size of RI’s.”
Mr. Girouard notes that the RI Independent Contractors & Associates shared the same sentiment in a statement recently. The contractor’s also believe that the RI General Assembly should find the funds within the current state budget. “The Center’s public/private partnership plan would transfer the risk of cost overruns to the private sector. Another win-win for the taxpayer.” Girouard continued, “Under both alternative plans construction jobs would be created, and, with more money available, that would mean more jobs."
Finally, group member Tony Viveiros emphasized that lawmakers need to slow down and debate the various options out there to fund bridge repair. “We urge the Governor, the Speaker and all other 112 legislators to reconsider this state-wide tolling plan. The paying public will not be fooled again. The bait and switch and backroom deals of 38 Studios were a huge wake-up call for taxpayers. They are not going to accept a 38 Studios style transportation deal.” Viveiros continued, “We know the drill, it will be ‘Trucks Today, Cars Tomorrow’."
StopTollsRI.com is a group of citizens opposing not just the Governor’s Truck-Toll plan, but any plan for tolls. You can take action to oppose the tolls atwww.StopTollsRI.com. The group includes members of these citizen taxpayer advocacy groups:
Concerned Island Citizens
Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
Little Compton Taxpayers
Sakonnet Toll Opposition Platform (STOP)
North Kingstown Taxpayers
Ocean State Taxpayers in Action (OSTPA)
The Gaspee Project
Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity
-=-=-The Gaspee Project · United States
You can also keep up with StopTollsRI on Twitter or Facebook.