State: Cut in truck registration fees will cost $1.1M more than disclosed

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After Rhode Island lawmakers voted to begin collecting tolls on large commercial trucks, they also sought to lessen the burden on local truckers by cutting registration fees in half.

When the plan was approved last June, lawmakers said the deal would reduce revenue by $4.3 million. But Eyewitness News has learned it will cost taxpayers significantly more than that.

According to Walter “Bud” Craddock, administrator of the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles, that’s because the plan not only includes Rhode Island-based trucks, but also trucks that travel through the state, as mandated by federal law.

“Trucks that travel interstate, their registration fees are pro-rated to the states the truck travels in,” Craddock explained.

When you add in the out-of-state trucks, the Department of Revenue says the fee reduction will end up costing the state an estimated $1.1 million more.

Larry Berman, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said in a statement Friday that covering all trucks was always the intention.

“Let me reiterate that the intent of the legislation was to include all trucks,” Berman said. “If the data provided was incomplete, it may require adjustment.”

Chris Maxwell of the Rhode Island Trucking Association said that whatever lawmakers’ intentions, they should have made clear the full cost at the time the plan was passed in the 2016-17 budget.

“It puts a critical dent in an existing funding stream,” he said.

The money from registration fees goes into the state’s highway maintenance fund.