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Intellectual honesty drives a good debate

Hold on to your wallets, readers of The Day. Columnist and Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere is at it again. (“Lamont was right, Connecticut needs tolls”, Nov. 29.) 

The oh, so predictable Choiniere is hopelessly wedded to a never-ending effort to take money out of your high-tax-paying pockets and send it to fund — you guessed it — big state government. Choiniere’s latest misleading “we’ve-gotta-have-tolls” column begs the question: Where is his journalistic integrity, which is required for an intellectually honest debate?

To The Day’s readers, I want you to know the following:

As the Connecticut General Assembly’s Senate minority leader, I met with Choiniere not once but several times regarding multiple Republican no-tolls, no-tax hikes transportation plans developed in recent years. I sent him a detailed narrative of how our alternative to Gov. Ned Lamont's job-killing tolls proposal would work.

I have corrected Choiniere personally, as well as in letter form, when he has mischaracterized the latest Republican plan — FASTR CT — as a “borrowing” plan. The Republican plan has no new borrowing and actually has less borrowing than any of Gov. Lamont’s toll proposals. In fact, our plan actually pays down on unfunded liabilities, while maintaining over $2 billion in the rainy day fund, and uses the savings associated with the retired debt to pay for the building of Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure.

Choiniere further attempts to mislead when he writes that “Republicans proposed borrowing with no new revenue source.” Since the Republican plan is not a borrowing plan, there is obviously no new revenue source needed.

Choiniere erroneously goes on to argue that if offering a no-tolls alternative was as popular as Republicans thought, the Republicans would have picked up seats in the state legislature during the recent election. The Day did all it could to make sure this election was a referendum on President Trump and on any Republican who never disavowed the president. To claim that Republicans didn’t gain seats because of our no-tolls, no-tax plan is a disingenuous argument.

Perhaps most telling is how Choiniere points the finger at Republicans for the lack of tolls in Connecticut while Democrats completely control state government. Democrats hold the governor’s seat, the House of Representatives and the state Senate. So why not blame Connecticut Democrats? At any time, they could have passed tolls and made them reality. The fact that Choiniere dared not criticize Connecticut Democrats should give The Day’s readers pause.

With Trump exiting, certain writers at The Day are now lacking column fodder. Will they now focus on Connecticut and the issues that will move our state forward? Will they strive for fairness in their columns or will they continue to ignore or mischaracterize substantive policy alternatives if they are of Republican origin?

John Adams famously said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." 

Choiniere would do himself and The Day’s readership a favor by posting that quote on his computer screen and deeply pondering it before writing his columns.

Len Fasano is the Connecticut Senate Republican leader. He represents the 34th Senate District including Durham, East Haven, North Haven and Wallingford. He did not seek re-election.

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