Following a meeting with Republican and Democrat leaders of the General Assembly, the question before the house being tolls, Governor Ned Lamont was asked by a reporter how things went.
Lamont answered, “Well, as they say after those State Department summits, I’d say we had frank and honest discussions,” meaning the bipartisan needle had not moved forward.
Republicans, and likely much of the state, do not want tolls. “’No, we don’t support tolls, period,’ said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven,” in a CTMirror account. “He added that he believes Senate Democrats would not call a vote on tolls without some Republican support, an assertion Senate Democratic leaders would not confirm or dispute.”
President Pro Tem of the state Senate Martin Looney -- along with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, both legislative goalies -- was asked to comment on the frank and honest discussions. “’I would not comment on that directly until we have a caucus,’ said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, a senator-for-life from New Haven. ‘I do believe it would be preferable for an issue of this magnitude to be bipartisan.’”
Democrat and Republican caucuses are directed by political “leaders” such as Looney and Aresimowicz. In Connecticut’s one party state, it is not unusual for Democrat leaders to tell Republican leaders to go pound sand, most especially when Democrats have the numbers, as they do, in the General Assembly. Naturally, the partisan dismissal comes clothed in the most up-to-date fashionable rhetorical garb.
But numbers are numbers, and the Republican caucus lost a significant number of soldiers during the last election, returning to Democrats marginal control of the General Assembly. The majority party owns all the Constitutional offices in the state, and all the members of Connecticut’s U.S. congressional delegation are ruling Democrats.
So, it may be asked, why are we having this discussion at all? To put it in other terms, why do majority Democrats need a Republican assent, however mild and grudging, on tolling?
There are numerous answers to this question, but one stands out head and shoulders above the rest, and one can be certain that Looney will be pressing upon his caucus, half of which is composed of progressives like himself who wish to move their party even further to he left, the political utility of achieving some sort of assent to tolling among Republicans who, if we are to believe Fasano as quoted above, are unalterably opposed to tolling. Assent, however grudging, removes campaign arrows from the Republican Party quivers.
There are numerous reasons why Republicans oppose tolling, but one stands out head and shoulders above the rest, and it is this: for decades, Connecticut’s one party state has been spending itself into penury. Why? Because, as everyone knows, the more you get, the more you spend. This iron, inescapable law of getting and spending applies to everyone in the universe, from the wealthiest millionaire to the nanny who takes care of the millionaire’s children – including the prodigal son of biblical lore. The more the prodigal son got, the more he spent; and as his funds ran out, he raced home into the arms of his forgiving father to replenish them.
The tax-spend-tax-again-spend-again cycle can only be broken when, as former Prime Minister of Britain so memorably put it, socialists and quasi-socialists run out of other people’s money. Connecticut is running out of other people’s money right now. Democrats don’t count this as a problem because they are the victims of their past successes. Have we not always been able to tax our way to prosperity? Why change now? If state government is rich in funds, the state will benefit, no?
Actually, no. The state is not state government, and it is by no means certain that if Connecticut politicians continue to tax entrepreneurial capital, the life-blood of prosperity, the real state will benefit.
We know that Connecticut’s ruling elite has governed pretty much for the last half century without bipartisan support; that Connecticut’s decision makers have emptied the state’s transportation lockbox and view a new add-on tax, tolling, as a means of bypassing ineffective spending barricades while mainlining tolling taxes to the state’s swelling general fund; that the Democrat Party is now the party of union excess and a fatalistic progressivism blind to reality; and that the state has been on a downward spiral for years. Corrective action would involve long-term permanent cuts in spending, a reassertion of budgetary control by the legislature that would depoliticize public employee unions, and courage – plain civic and political courage, always in short supply.
To be trusted, a government must be trustworthy. No one should trust this government. Cut spending. Do it now.