Stop Tolls rally planned for Tuesday

Stop Tolls rally planned for Tuesday

PROVIDENCE - The StopTollsRI.com coalition will hold a joint press conference and rally with the Republican Policy Group at the Rhode Island Statehouse this Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 3 p.m.. The event is planned to show opposition to any and all toll proposals.

The question is not whether Rhode Island bridges need to be repaired but how to pay for it, according to a news release. Both groups are opposed to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s "flawed" truck toll plan and any plan involving tolls, recognizing it as "a grievous assault" on the state's businesses and residents. The Republican Policy Group has proposed a “pay-as-you-go” plan its leaders say provides more funding for construction and repair than Raimondo's plan does, or $875 million compared to $620 million.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, along with its introduction of a public/private partnership, proposes a “pay/go” plan as well. The StopTollsRI.com group supports the “pay/go” plan as a better alternative to tolls, specifically because they say it will not hurt any particular industry, it will not increase the cost of every product purchased in the state, and it provides more money for bridge repair.

Many business owners testified last year that Rhode Island would experience numerous job losses in the trucking industry if truck toll legislation passed, stated the release.

"In a move that is expected to repeat itself if tolls get closer to a reality, UPS announced last week that they were pulling 10 tractor trailer trucks, along with the associated jobs, out of Rhode Island and moving them to Massachusetts," said members of the group.

“The trucking industry told leadership that there would be job losses. This is just the first of many losses that are expected to occur if the governor’s toll legislation passes,” said StopTollsRI spokesman Tony Viveiros. "When we fought against the Sakonnet Toll, it was the same situation. The General Assembly ignored the negative financial impact of tolls on the local and state economy. They are doing the same thing here. UPS is proving that stop was right."

Monique Chartier, spokesperson for StopTollsRI.com, said outrage over tolling in the state is a non-partisan issue.

"It makes much more sense to prioritize Rhode Island's nearly $9 billion budget. Our budget should reflect the most important spending and you don’t get much more important than safeguarding our bridges," she said. “Our coalition is deeply concerned about the many flaws in the governor’s toll plan but of equal concern is the lack of transparency. The governor provided maps from 1882 last week in response to an (open records) request for gantry locations. This highlights just how disingenuous this administration is about a public legislative process.”

StopTollsRI.com member Larry Fitzmorris said that Tuesday's press conference "is to let our elected officials know that voters understand how Rhode Island government works - it will be truck tolls today, cars tomorrow."

StopTollsRI.com is a coalition of citizen groups opposing the governor's toll plan and any other toll proposal. The public is also encouraged to take action to oppose tolls by visiting www.StopTollsRI.com.

Member organizations include Concerned Island Citizens, The Gaspee Project, Little Compton Taxpayers, North Kingstown Taxpayers, Ocean State Taxpayers in Action (OSTPA), Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, RI Taxpayers, and Sakonnet Toll Opposition Platform (STOP). Supporting organizations include the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, WatchdogRI.org, The Coalition Talk Radio, and DontToll.com.