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Connecticut Governor Orders Highway Toll Study

July 18, 2018

Transport Topics

By Bill Cummings

Despite his lame-duck status, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is ordering a $10 million study on placing electronic tolls on the state’s highways and finding ways to fund needed transportation improvements.

“As Connecticut’s General Assembly and next governor consider how to address the future of our state’s transportation funding, this study and plan will prove to be invaluable in their endeavor to make an informed decision,” Malloy said in announcing the study on July 17.

Although Malloy will be out of office — the Democrat is not seeking a third term — by the time the study is completed, its results could have a lasting impact on how Connecticut pays for improvements to relieve congestion and bring its highway, rail and bridge systems into good repair.

Malloy’s proposed study shocked Republican lawmakers, many of whom are steadfastly against tolling unless the state reduces other taxes, such as property and gas levies.

“On his way out the door Gov. Malloy is continuing to spend taxpayer dollars as if there was no tomorrow,” said state Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven).

“This entire study controlled by his administration could be a massive waste of money,” Fasano said.

The study ordered by Malloy will specifically look at tolling on the Merritt Parkway and Interstates 95 and 84, along with other state roads. The study will include specific toll charges.

Also, the report will look at providing discounts, tax credits or other value-pricing options to Connecticut residents while ensuring that out-of-state drivers contribute their fair share. The study will also explore ways to reduce gas taxes and the environmental impact of tolling.

State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), and co-chairperson of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, also blasted Malloy’s move.

“We had hearings [this year] and the Democratic-controlled House could not even put it up for a vote because they did not have the votes,” she said.

A bill to conduct a similar study on tolling failed to gain a vote in the House or Senate due to opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

‘Be truthful’

The state has conducted numerous studies on tolling over the years, although none of those reports offered a detailed plan on where to place tolls, how much to charge and how much could be made. Estimates of tolling revenue have reached $1 billion a year, although most believe realistic projections are considerably lower.

Malloy said its time to look at tolling and an overall plan to fund transportation. The governor supported tolls this year and proposed raising gas taxes and slapping a $3 fee on new tire purchases.

“We need to be truthful with the people we were elected to represent — without transforming the way we fund our highways, we will be unable to pay for the large-scale construction and rehabilitation projects that our state needs to ensure continued safe travel while attracting businesses and growing our economy,” Malloy said.

The state’s gas tax receipts have been dropping for years as cars became more fuel-efficient and more electric cars hit the road, leaving less money to improve roads and bridges.

Boucher said she cannot support tolls unless the state also reduces or eliminates property taxes and the gas tax.

“The last time we had tolls, we didn’t even have an income tax,” she said.

Sen. Boucher to be honored by Jewish Federation of Connecticut

July 12, 2018

The Ridgefield Press

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) will honored in December by the Jewish Federation of Connecticut (JFACT). She will be recognized for her work on education legislation at JFACT Fund’s annual “Night at the Theater” fundraiser on December 16.

As co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, Sen. Boucher played an active role in shepherding Public Act 18-24 through the legislative process. The bill requires that public school districts include education about the Holocaust and genocides in their high school social studies curriculum.

“I have been working on this issue for a long time and the legislation we were able to pass this session has been years in the making. The disturbing rise in anti-Semitic incidents in our state shows how important it is,” Sen. Boucher said. “I truly believe that if young people in our state learned about the Holocaust, learned how small acts of racism and hate grew into the greatest human travesty in history, we would not be seeing this increase in anti-Semitic and racist incidents. If we are to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we must teach every generation about the depths of depravity that can result from hate. We can never let this curriculum disappear again.”

The JFACT Fund event includes a performance of “The Pianist at Willesden,” which tells the true and inspirational story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician whose dreams are interrupted by the Nazi regime. JFACT Executive Director Michael Bloom said the organization believes it is fitting to weave these great events together.

“The Jewish community is so thrilled that we were able to pass this crucial legislation. However, we could not have done it without these four advocates. We are so excited to host this night where we get to see this amazing play and then honor these legislators,” Bloom said.

Another legislator being honored that evening is State Senator Gayle Slossberg.

Sen. Boucher serves the 26th State Senate District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

United Jewish Federation To Honor State Sen. Boucher In December

July 12, 2018

New Canaan Patch

By Alfred Branch, Patch Staff

NEW CANAAN, CT — From the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien: State Senator Toni Boucher was notified that she will be one of the legislators honored in December by the Jewish Federation of Connecticut (JFACT). She will be recognized for her work on education legislation at JFACT Fund’s annual “Night at the Theater” fundraiser on December 16.

As Co-Chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, Sen. Boucher played an active role in shepherding Public Act 18-24 through the legislative process. The bill requires that public school districts include education about the Holocaust and genocides in their high school social studies curriculum.

“I have been working on this issue for a long time and the legislation we were able to pass this session has been years in the making. The disturbing rise in anti-Semitic incidents in our state shows how important it is,” Sen. Boucher said. “I truly believe that if young people in our state learned about the Holocaust, learned how small acts of racism and hate grew into the greatest human travesty in history, we would not be seeing this increase in anti-Semitic and racist incidents. If we are to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we must teach every generation about the depths of depravity that can result from hate. We can never let this curriculum disappear again.”

The JFACT Fund event includes a performance of “The Pianist at Willesden,” which tells the true and inspirational story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician whose dreams are interrupted by the Nazi regime. JFACT Executive Director Michael Bloom said the organization believes it is fitting to weave these great events together.

“The Jewish community is so thrilled that we were able to pass this crucial legislation. However, we could not have done it without these four advocates. We are so excited to host this night where we get to see this amazing play and then honor these legislators,” Bloom said.

Another legislator being honored that evening is State Senator Gayle Slossberg.

Sen. Boucher serves the 26th State Senate District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Senator Boucher Named Children’s Champion

July 3, 2018

The Ridgefield Press

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) was recently named a 2018 Children’s Champion by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (CECA). The award is given to legislators who demonstrate leadership on issues that impact the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of healthy development, early care and education, nutrition, and safety.

“Education and issues affecting children are the reasons I became involved in government in the first place. They will always be my passion and the key to the future of this state and nation,” Sen. Boucher said. “I am humbled to again receive the Children’s Champion Award from the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. This organization does so much to ensure that all of Connecticut’s children are prepared and have the best opportunity to learn and succeed. I have so much respect for the work they do and am honored that they consider me an ally.”

Now the Co-Chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, Sen. Boucher began her political career as a member of the Wilton Board of Education. She also has served as a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education.

“Each of the legislators we’re recognizing this year stood up for children to protect funding for child care or to push policy change that supports families with children,” said Merrill Gay, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Approved legislation supported by CECA includes:

  • Making it easier for homeless families to obtain child care
  • Allowing the Office of Early Childhood (OEC)to prioritize infants and toddlers on the Care4Kids wait list
  • Making it easier for the OEC to adjust provider rates for School Readiness and state-funded centers
  • Mandating insurance coverage of pregnancy and immunizations

“We now know so much more about early childhood education. Getting a good start early in life greatly improves a child’s chances of success. Close to 80% of a child’s brain develops from 0-5 years old!” Sen. Boucher said. “A brighter for our children is a brighter future for our state.”

Sen. Boucher represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Connecticut Senate Fails To Override Malloy’s Veto Of Classroom Safety Bill

June 25, 2018

WNPR

By Ray Hardman

The Connecticut state Senate failed to override a veto by Governor Dannel Malloy on legislation that would have allowed teachers to remove disruptive or violent students from their classroom.

Governor Malloy vetoed the bill because he said the measure would disproportionately affect students with disabilities and students of color.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate last month, but at Monday’s veto session, it was clear that some Senators were having second thoughts about the bill, including Democratic Senator Gayle Slossberg.

“We can’t take any chances that any of our communities are going to be disadvantaged or disproportionately impacted, or that in any way we are going to rollback all of the good work we have done in the past on our suspension laws,” said Slossberg.

But Republican Senator Toni Boucher urged for the override, saying the bill ensures a safe classroom.

“We have teachers leaving the classroom that have been veteran teachers because of the feeling of harm, and the feeling that it’s not a safe environment,” said Boucher. “What we want to do above all else is to have a good learning environment.”

While the bill failed to get the two-thirds votes necessary for an override, Democratic Senator Steve Cassano urged his colleagues to not wait until next year to fix the problem.

“This something that can be worked out,” said Cassano, “and I’d much rather it be worked out as part of the special session that we are most likely to have, so that we don’t have to wait a year for this to be effective.”

It is expected that the General Assembly will reconvene for a special session sometime this summer to come up with a framework for sports gambling in the state.