HARTFORD – State Representatives Michael Ferguson (R-138), John Frey (R-111) and Rich Smith (R-108) expressed relief at the announcement that the Department of Transportation is pulling Connecticut out of a plan to study how to tax state residents for miles driven on Connecticut roads. In last year’s budget, the state set aside $300,000 to participate in the study for what became known as the “mileage tax.”
The $3 million federal study, which included participants from eight other Northeastern states, would have looked at how a tax on miles driven could replace the traditional gasoline tax and involved the state installing mileage trackers on participants’ cars and transmitting the miles they drove to a vendor, which would generate a sample tax bill.
Fierce opposition to the bill from taxpayers and Republican lawmakers, who resisted the intrusive nature of a mileage tracker and the added expense of paying per mile driven, last year forced majority leadership to throw cold water on the possibility the plan would be implemented, though the fact that the funding had been allocated still troubled people.
Reps. Ferguson, Frey, and Smith were among those who informed their constituents about the plan and why they openly opposed it.
“As disturbing as Connecticut’s consistent tax and spend policies have been over the last few years, I think the death of the mileage tax study represents a clear victory for taxpayers in Connecticut,” said Rep. Ferguson. “The idea that the state could force you to put a device in your vehicle that tracks how many miles you drive and then charge you for them was completely unacceptable. The governor and majority party spinning the plan and saying it was only ‘studying’ the idea only infuriated people more – why spend money on it if you weren’t planning on implementing it? Taxpayers voiced their opposition to it from the start and state leaders were forced to finally listen to them.”
“The mileage tax study was a bad idea from the start,” said Rep. Frey. “No one liked it other than the governor and certain special interest groups, but the majority party didn’t have the courage to scrap it from last year’s budget. When my colleagues and I sounded the alarm about the study and the implications of a mileage tax, the overwhelmingly negative response it received from Connecticut residents made it politically unpalatable. Now, thanks to that strong opposition, it’s not going to happen in the near future. It just shows you the power taxpayers have when they rally around an issue.”
“We need to always be vigilant of the lengths state government will go to in order to extract money from its taxpayers,” said Rep. Smith. “The governor and majority party had visions of the mileage tax being another cash cow to exploit to enable its insatiable habit of taxing and spending. Oftentimes, the state will get away with it under the guise of ‘fairness’ and the people end up stuck with the new tax or fee. This time, through persistent Republican opposition, the study was scrapped from the people’s budget. I will keep fighting to change the direction of Connecticut and bring jobs back to our state.”