FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 31, 2016
Monique Chartier: 401-261-0508
New Bill Expands Tolls Beyond Original Bill
Supports Opposition’s Claim That Preliminary Intentions For Tolling Are Only A Gateway To Future Expansion
No longer only targeting interstate trucks, a new toll bill, introduced in the General Assembly last Thursday, doubles down on the majority of Governor Gina Raimondo's highly misguided toll proposal from last spring. Under the new bill, gantries would be erected around the state to collect tolls from all large trucks, with no tax credits or rebates for local trucking companies, thereby expanding the vehicles subject to tolling. Additionally, while the revenue bonds are swapped for out GARVEE bonds, reducing the cost of borrowing, the interest still represents an eye-popping $204 million that will be removed from RI’s economy rather than spent on bridge repair.
Language in the bill attempts to placate car owners, requiring voter approval for tolls on autos, but that sentence in the law holds no more weight than the language in the previous bill. What the General Assembly legislates in, they can legislate out. A better protection would be an actual Constitutional Amendment, similar to the one that has been proposed in both the House and the Senate, requiring not only a statewide referendum, but also approval from each municipality in which a gantry would be erected.
“The ink wasn’t even dry on the bill when legislators effectively expanded tolls onto a new group of vehicles", says StopTollsRI.com spokesperson Monique Chartier. "Moreover, with tolls, state leaders are considering a funding mechanism that is nothing short of radioactive. The toll issue is economically radioactive for both the state's residents, adding to the cost of every consumer product, as well as for Rhode Island businesses, adding to the already high cost of doing business in this state."
Chartier continued, “Tolls will also be politically radioactive for legislators who support them. Voters have a highly visceral reaction against tolls. The election of Senator Pagliarini is a clear indication that Tolls represent a hotbed of reprisal."
Speaker Mattiello has, remarkably, hailed the bill as an 'economic development initiative'. The google map of gantry locations provides a visual that tells exactly the opposite. “If you look at the red dots squeezed in to this tiny little state, it does not say Welcome To RI, We Are Open For Business", says Chartier. "Just the opposite; it says, Don’t Come Here To Do Business. We Don’t Want Your Kind.”
The Republican Policy Group proposed an alternative plan last year, although elected leaders have since denied that an alternative plan exists. This pay-as-you-go plan to fund bridge repair can no longer be ignored as it will be heard at the same time as the toll bill: Thursday, February 4th at 2:00 pm in the House Finance Committee.
StopTollsRI.com urges voters to continue contacting state legislators and urge them to vote against any toll proposal.
Legislators need to be reminded that there can be a very real political cost to how they vote. This - and any - toll bill will most certainly be one of those votes.
StopTollsRI.com is a coalition of citizen groups opposing not just the Govenor’s Truck Toll plan, but ANY toll proposal. The public is encouraged to take action to oppose the tolls at www.StopTollsRI.com.
Concerned Island Taxpayers
The Gaspee Project
Little Compton Taxpayers
North Kingstown Taxpayers
Ocean State Taxpayers in Action (OSTPA)
Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
Sakonnet Toll Opposition Platform (STOP)
RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity
The Coalition Talk Radio
Rhode Island Farm Bureau
Rhode Island Independent Contractors & Associates Inc.
Rhode Island Federation of Republican Women
Portsmouth Business Association
Coalition Note: Listen Here For This Past Weekend's Interview - Rhode Island Independent Contractors