Gov. Gina Raimondo has sharply lowered her forecast of how much money truck tolls will generate this year because they are getting and running more slowly than initially expected.
The budget proposal Raimondo released earlier this month projects that tolls will generate $7 million in the current 2018-19 budget year, which is $34 million less than was expected when the budget passed last June.
If you’ve watched the toll discussion and rollout even casually, you will know that this development is actually not at all a surprise. Truck counts (wrong twice), truck diversion rates for the full gantry system, now this projection – from the time that she announced her highly ill-advised and unnecessary truck-only (smirk) toll program, Raimondo and her RIDOT have a solid track record of getting every important number wrong.
Their excuse in this case is that the permitting process took longer than expected. This is nonsense. They knew how long it would take to get the next ten gantries up and operational. So why did Governor Raimondo, the numbers and financial wizard – to repeat, the NUMBERS AND FINANCIAL WIZARD – put this artificially high number into her budget to begin with??
Rhode Island has had one of the highest costs per mile for highway and “bridge” construction yet some of the worst highway conditions. It is clear, accordingly, that the answer to better roads and “bridges” is not ever more revenue. It is not for Governor Raimondo, with the hearty complicity of democrats in the RI General Assembly, to gouge Rhode Island residents and businesses via ever more fees and taxes and clever revenue sources but to require of RIDOT what she (and the General Assembly) has compelled of us all: do more with less. Live within a budget – more specifically and to the point, a budget that we, the taxpayers and residents, can afford.
[Monique has been a contributor to the Ocean State Current and Anchor Rising for over ten years, was volunteer spokesperson for the citizens advocacy anti-toll group StopTollsRI.com for three+ years and began working for the Rhode Island Trucking Association as a staff member in September of 2017.]