GOP Policy Group unveils counter bridge repair proposal

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE – A plan that claims to do away with the need for tolls to pay for fixing Rhode Island’s failing bridges has met with almost no support at the State House.

The Republican Policy Group proposed a ten-year, $900 million proposal with an $875 million commitment to repair deficient bridges, using only existing revenue instead of creating new taxes.

The group is against Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed truck tolls. Her ten-year, $1.3 billion proposal would use $620 million on bridge repair.

“We think we get a better value for our state,” explained Rep. Patricia Morgan (R – District 26).

The GOP proposal would take so-called “fatty,” excess funding each year from 12 different avenues, including $24 million from DMV fees (with annual increases based on fee increases); $500,000 from an annual subsidy for twin river; and $25 million starting in 2021 from RICAP, the “rainy day” fund.

Governor Raimondo’s office sent a statement, saying while it’s appreciated the Republicans recognize a need to invest more in our infrastructure, the proposal doesn’t provide “real, long-term solutions” but is instead “smoke and mirrors.”

Press Secretary Marie Aberger told ABC6 News the proposal fails to account for next year’s expected $150 million shortfall, and siphons resources away from essential services such as snow removal and pothole repair.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello admonished the proposal, saying it “fails to address capital needs and will leave a disaster for future generations.” He called out the money being taken away from RICAP and said the DMV fee funds are double-counted. “The minority of the minority caucuses is more interested in making a political statement than working collaboratively to address our transportation infrastructure needs,” he told ABC6 News in a statement.

Rhode Island’s bridges are some of the worst in the nation. One out of every five bridges in the state is structurally deficient.

© WLNE-TV 2015