Shelton Reps: Consumers will foot bill of truck mileage tax

State Reps Jason Perillo, R-113, and Ben McGorty, R-122, joined with fellow Republicans and five Democrats in opposing a new mileage tax on trucks that use Connecticut’s highways.

The new legislation will create a per-mile tax on trucks that will increase based on gross tonnage. Trucks weighing 26,000 to 28,000 pounds will pay $0.025 per mile and vehicles weighing more than 80,000 pounds will pay $0.175 per mile. Revenue will be directed to the Special Transportation Fund.

“Let's set the record straight,” Perillo said. “This new tax on trucks will lead directly to increased prices at the grocery store, Walmart, Target and all large and small retailers. I’m not quite sure how driving up the price of milk and eggs and vegetables is good for anyone, but state Democrats seem to be OK with that."

Perillo said that Republicans took steps to shore up the Special Transportation Fund during the last budget cycle by earmarking revenue from the new car sales tax for investment in the state's infrastructure.

"Clearly that didn't hold up well, because Democrats found a way around the lockbox by diverting those dedicated dollars to the general fund, rending the lockbox ineffective, and the STF nearly insolvent,” Perillo said. “It was just a tactic to raise taxes, and unfortunately, it worked.”

McGorty said the true cost of transportation projects in the state continues to go unaddressed.

“Connecticut’s costly labor mandates multiply the time and cost of every mile of new or repaired surface on Route 8 and other major arteries,” he said. “Until and unless we address the underlying cost of Project Labor Agreements and the structural problems within the STF, this new tax will fix nothing.”

Shelton’s representatives said Republicans had offered an amendment that would transfer $320 million in annual motor vehicle-related sales tax revenue from the general fund to the STF. That revenue would include motor vehicle sales, the rental car surcharge, the transportation services sales tax and the sales of motor vehicle parts. The amendment failed along party lines.

Democrats who worried about the bill's impact on dairy farms in their districts passed an amendment to exempt the industry, Perillo said, adding that Republicans offered another amendment to exempt trucks used for retail or wholesale food delivery, agricultural commodities, or farm supplies. Majority Democrats also rejected that amendment in a 90 to 57 vote.

Democrats passed the truck tax along party lines in an 88 to 59 vote.

The bill awaits Gov. Ned Lamont's signature.