Debate is not really about tolls, it's about lack of trust
The Day, its columnists, state Democrats and Gov. Ned Lamont have argued that imposing tolls in Connecticut is about getting money from out-of-state residents. This argument is miscast. Tolls are an issue of trust and addiction.
The Connecticut government is addicted to taxpayer dollars, with the Democrats who control it going to any length to get their fix. Taxpayers have been the enablers for the last 30 years and we keep hoping that the government gets its addiction under control; but the time has come to say enough. We have lost trust in our government, which has stolen from our purse too many times. Taxpayers must cut them off, even if that means it causes us some pain in the process.
When the “temporary” state income tax began in 1992 the state budget was $7.76 billion or roughly $2,350 in spending per state resident. Now the proposed budget is $18 billion or about $5,140 per resident. Adjusted for inflation, $2,350 in 1992 would equal $4,300 or about $15 billion in2019 . With many state services being cheaper now than in 1992, our current budget should be able to pay for all services we had then, plus an additional $3 billion per year in highway or other expenses.
The “temporary” state income tax was going to give us space until legislators could develop permanent solutions. The permanent solution became that income tax. But it wasn’t the solution. The state was then gifted another $400 million a year from the casinos, but the local stipend for towns affected by casinos was reduced, and that wasn’t enough.
The income tax rates were increased, the proposed “millionaires” tax quickly became a tax on everyone. Then sales and gas taxes were increased. This still wasn’t enough, so the legislature raised the income tax again. And yet, here we sit being told that highway tolling will be the permanent and real solution, they promise this time.
Taxpayers ca no longer trust their government. Experience shows when lawmakers get their hands into our pockets, the only place they go is deeper.
Few will argue against the benefits of collecting tolls from highway users and non-residents. What we will argue is that the state already spends too much, and the taxpayers have been forced to pay too much. People know 12 toll gantries just for trucks will soon become 24 or 36 and include cars as well.
The time has come to say, “Enough!” Even if that means losing some out-of-state funds in the meantime. It is an intervention. No one last fix before they get clean. We’ve been down that road before
Greg Ellis lives in Niantic.
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