Looking to protect the money in its Special Transportation Fund, the Connecticut Legislature began talks this week on a constitutional amendment that would prohibit use of the funds by agencies other than Connecticut DOT. A three-fourths majority approval in the House and Senate would be required for the amendment to be put to voters in the next election.
The Special Transportation Fund normally holds reserves of at least $1 billion. However, over the last decade, the money has often been used to make up for any shortfalls in the state budget.
A similar bill was introduced in 2013 that received unanimous approval; however, a last-minute change delayed the changes until 2015. Lawmakers are hoping to avoid the same predicament by amending the state constitution, making the measure more difficult to repeal.
A spokesman for the office of Gov. Dannel Malloy stated that the governor already prevents unauthorized transfers from the fund, making a constitutional amendment unnecessary.
The state is facing heavy pressure from citizens to make upgrades to the Metro-North Railroad, with complaints about poor service and concerns following a pair of major derailments in 2013, as well as relieving congestion on state highways.