HARTFORD, Conn. — Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, owner-operators and motor carriers transporting goods through Connecticut will be subject to a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax as high as 17.5 cents per mile, depending on the weight of the vehicle.
Connecticut House Bill (HB) 6688, which was passed by both houses of the state legislature in early June, was signed into law July 12 by the state’s Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.
The tax, which Lamont refers to as a “highway user fee” for large commercial trucks, was originally part of the governor’s proposed state operating budget. The fees, applied to all roads within the state, will begin at 2.5 cents per mile for commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,000 to 28,000 pounds and range up to 17.5 cents per mile for those weighing 80,000 pounds or more. Motor carriers will be required to calculate and file monthly returns for miles traveled on roads within Connecticut. The funds generated, expected to average $90 million annually, will be deposited into a special transportation fund.
Following outcry from members of the trucking industry against the state legislature’s passage of the bill, which many see as unfairly building the state’s tax base on commercial vehicles, Lamont took to social media to defend the fee.
“The trucking lobby is threatening to have drivers go around Connecticut because of the Highway User Fee. That’s fine. We’ll have less air pollution, safer and better quality roads, and less people with asthma. Looks like the Highway User Fee is already working,” Lamont said in a June 9 Twitter post.
Attached to the post was a video clip of Lamont making a statement to reporters, in which he noted that if trucking companies rerouted to avoid Connecticut, “We’ll still have the resources we need to make the investments we’ve got to.”
American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and American Trucking Associations (ATA) fired back at Lamont, both describing his statements as “ignorant.”
“Lamont’s ignorance could fill a road train of 53-foot trailers. His open hostility toward truckers is shocking. He has shown a complete lack of respect for those who keep his state running by hauling goods in & out of CT. When did politicians become so out of touch with reality?” read a June 10 tweet from OOIDA.
“Imagine being ignorant enough to think this is a clever response. You’ll also have less gasoline, less groceries, less household goods, less medicine, less construction materials… and all will cost more for consumers, too. If you bought it, a truck brought it,” ATA noted in a June 11 tweet.
Following Lamont’s signing of HB 6688 into law July 12, Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC), noted that similar policies in other states have failed because they are difficult to enforce, according to CT News Junkie. MTAC has historically opposed truck-only user fees.
“You’re going to have out-of-state trucking companies either knowingly or unknowingly not pay it,” Sculley said. “That’s why it’s going to fail. We’re not going to get the money. The state is not going to get the tax revenue that they think they are and that’s going to cause a whole host of problems.”
For more information about activity surrounding Connecticut HB 6688, click here.