On behalf of all Rhode Islanders, thanks to Minority Leader Patricia Morgan for filing a bill to repeal RhodeWorks’ truck (wink) tolls. (See her statement after the jump.)
Governor Gina Raimondo asserted the need for tolls as a financial necessity to repair state bridges which were/are some of the worst in the country but, by golly, we just don’t have
the will to find the money in the state budget (even though it’s a MAJOR public safety issue, danger, danger, Will Robinson).
However, the governor has decisively rebutted her own assertions about the fiscal necessity of tolls, as StopTollsRI.com (disclosure: I act as their spokesperson) pointed out in a letter to the Providence Journal on Sunday, by proposing a brand new, $30M/year spending program.
“Free” college tuition is at best nice to have (and it certainly would not solve the state’s employee skills gap, as the governor claims). If there is money in the budget for an expensive nice-to-have item, then it is clear that there is money for a less expensive vital service such as bridge repairs.
Legislators can now vote to repeal tolls, secure in the knowledge that public safety did not necessitate the passage of this highly destructive new revenue stream and confident that the money can be found in the budget to repair the state’s unsafe bridges. The governor has helpfully done this hard work for them.