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Why There Will Be Tolls

It is nearly a forgone conclusion that tolls will be erected in Connecticut, and it is worth explaining why.

Taxation in Connecticut is a matter of numbers, just as the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the House was a matter of numbers and his exoneration in the Senate will be a matter of numbers. Rationales will be offered in both chambers, but the reasons offered pro and contra are purely decorative, not compelling. It is the votes that are compelling. The same is true of Connecticut’s state budget. Democrats have commanding leads in both chambers, therefore there will be tolls.

And the tolls, to be imposed only on trucks in Governor Lamont’s latest toll legislation, will metastasize in the future. That too is inevitable.

The reasons for tolling so far put forward by Democrats are simply a false front. Republicans have been shouting this from the rooftops for the past year. Tolls are necessary because a single party legislature, dominated for decades by Democrats growing more progressive through the years, has blown through its patrimony.

This should be obvious to anyone but a partisan, lickspittle, progressive – the state’s media and General Assembly is awash in them. Former Governor Lowell Weicker’s income tax boosted revenues threefold and, in the course of time bled red. The same is true of Malloy’s two massive tax increases, taken together, the largest increase in state history. The same is true of Governor Lamont’s tax extensions. When Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo recently announced yet another deficit, not even the proverbial “fly on the wall” was surprised?

The real problem, as some of us have been saying for decades, lies not on the revenue side but wholly on the spending side. We have nearly the largest state worker pension deficit in the country and the most burdensome taxes not because legislators have been cautiously monitoring tax increases, but because we have been prodigal both in spending and in enacting pension augmentations to satisfy implacable union demands. Cut spending – permanently, long term -- redraft future union contracts and erect a wall of separation between budget formation and union dependent, progressive legislators by booting union leaders from the budget negotiating table. Problem solved.

This is easy to say, to be sure, and hard to do. But the public good always has exacted sacrifices from servants of the republic. Shiloh was a Civil War battlefield strewn with shattered bodies and soaked in blood. “I saw an open field, in our possession on the second day, over which the Confederates had made repeated charges the day before,” General Grant said, “so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground.”  World War ll was no walk in the park. When the founders of the nation pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, they were indeed risking their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Some legislators in the General Assembly seem unwilling to risk their seats to save the state of Connecticut.

This defection from honor by our legislators is a moral and political disgrace. Future generations of Connecticut expats living among more spend- conscious, courageous legislators will not look kindly on them. And if ever Connecticut’s media should recover from its lassitude and thoughtless partisanship, a recovered media in the future, its honor bright and shining, will not praise a General Assembly that has driven Connecticut – meaning the PEOPLE of the state, not the administrators of its decline – into factionalism and despair. 

Democrat leaders in the General Assembly – President of the Senate Martin Looney and his co-pilot in the House Joe Arsimowitz –have decided to bite the toll bullet.

CTMirror reports, “The Senate Democratic majority intends to take a hard count Tuesday of votes in favor of a 10-year transportation financing plan that would rely on truck tolls, a pivotal moment for Gov. Ned Lamont as he approaches the last day of his first year in office on Wednesday.

“'We hope we can get to 18,’ said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, a reference to the bare minimum necessary for passage. ‘We hope we can move on to the main business of the next session.’”

Republican leaders in the General Assembly consider the vote premature. Democrats do not want to wait for the regular session to open in February because they want to leap-frog over public hearings. Tolls in Connecticut are very unpopular. Democrat held seats in the General Assembly will be subject to a popular vote in the upcoming 2020 election, and the problem with biting bullets is that on rare occasions the bullets bite back.


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