Democratic leaders in both chambers confidently said they had the votes a day after a decision by Gov. Ned Lamont to stop the trucks-only tolls plan in its tracks.
“Oh, I know I had the votes,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz.
“We have 18 votes,” said President Pro Tempore of the Senate Martin Looney.
So, why didn’t they pass it?
The magic number to approve tolls in the state Senate is 18. Looney said he offered to flip a coin with the Speaker of the House to see who would vote first. However, the governor hit the brakes on the bill instead.
“Having the scenario and the sequence to where it works to get passed is very different than having the votes,” Aresimowicz explained.
On Thursday, Republicans said now is the time to consider their proposal to take $1.5 billion out of the $2.7 billion emergency fund to fix the state’s roads and bridges.
“They’re claiming transportation is an emergency. And you can’t get tolls passed and there’s an emergency why wouldn’t you do this plan,” asked Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano.
Aresimowicz called dipping into the rainy day fund a non-starter.
“It shouldn’t be a starter for them,” he retorted.
“It’s a non-starter because it’s our idea,” Fasano replied at the assumption.
While Looney didn’t give the Republican plan any praise he stopped short of saying he wouldn’t consider it.
“I’m open to any proposal that could reflect a consensus that we could get to,” he said.
The governor and the speaker said they’re moving on.
“Tolls are on pause. Tolls are done. I accept that,” said Aresomowicz who supported both trucks and car tolling.
Looney didn’t rule out talk of tolls in the near future.
“The governor’s pulled the plug on it, but we’re hoping we can get back to the issue later in the session,” he said. “Not ruling out a vote on tolls or any other transportation option.”
Leaders in both parties said transportation funding is still their number one priority this session.
The governor said he’ll divert some $200 million in bond money meant for other programs to the state’s transportation priorities.
Now, lawmakers said they’re just waiting to see his new plan.