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Officials hold meeting on return of tolls to state highways

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HARTFORD -

Democrats in Hartford said Monday it's time lawmakers had the "guts" to bring tolls back to Connecticut highways.

It's a question that's been up for debate the past few years. The state has not had tolls since the 1980s.

A bill that called for electronic tolls on several state highways such as I-95, 91 and 84 ended up dying last year.

Some lawmakers have argued electronic tolls would draw in revenue to help tackle the state's budget deficit. Others have argued against taxing their constituents, saying the state needs to find other ways to bring in funds.

A new AAA poll says 47 percent of drivers prefer tolls over raising the gas tax, but a third of drivers don't want to pay more at all.

MORE: New AAA survey supports tolls on CT interstate highways

Toll-backers say Connecticut is in a transportation crisis, but Republicans like state Sen. Toni Boucher say tolls aren't necessary.

"We had a bus-way that a lot of people questioned. There's a high-speed rail to Springfield that a lot of people questioned, when our infrastructure here - that is the lifeblood of the economy - goes neglected," she says.

Gov. Malloy has threatened to raise Metro-North fares and bus ticket prices if state lawmakers don't find more money for roads.

The Department of Transportation will issue a report in March detailing where tolls might go and how much they might cost, but it would take a few years to get them in place.

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