In conceding that a House vote on a tolls bill would likely not happen this year, House Speaker Joe Arsimowicz said, “When you have people that want to paint the picture that Connecticut sucks at all costs and any new thing is going to force people out of the state, it’s a tough narrative to overcome.”
With all due respect, it’s not Connecticut that “sucks,” rather it’s the way the state has been run.
It’s the fact that Connecticut’s cost of living has become an unfair burden on the people living here, it’s that no matter how much taxes go up the government still claims to be broke and wants even more tax revenue from the people.
If such a narrative exists, it is not that Connecticut “sucks at all costs,” but that Connecticut sucks because of the costs.
Frankly, it’s about time people became upset enough to push back in a significant way. The tolls argument was the perfect vehicle [no pun intended] for residents of the state to vent their collective anger over years of fiscal mismanagement.
Public policies have consequences, not just political consequences but real-life consequences for individuals and families working hard each day, driving to work, buying food, raising a family.
Connecticut is already a high cost state. Any tax on the people — no matter how small or large — eats into their ability not just to survive, but to thrive.
Life in Connecticut should not be about working hard every day so you can scrape together enough money to eat, pay taxes and then die. No. Connecticut residents want a life where there is more money in their pockets at the end of the day to do fun stuff — go to the movies, take their kids to amusement parks, go on vacation, eat at a restaurant.
Fun money equals economic activity, growth, joy. Fun money in Connecticut would mean a better life for people. It would shift the narrative.
It’s hard enough to get by in a high-cost state, adding additional taxes to the mix — whether they come in the form of tolls or right out of their paycheck — just hurts.
The Speaker decried the “misinformation” surrounding the tolls debate and has repeatedly taken issue with reports about the number of tolls gantries, how much they would cost, how much Connecticut residents would pay, etc, etc.
Leaving aside the fact that Connecticut’s Department of Transportation has already conducted studies to determine all those details, the truth is the people have had enough — they don’t want to pay any more, not one cent more — nor should they.
For example, Speaker Aresimowicz pointed out the I-84 viaduct bridge just behind the Legislative Office Building, marked with white, spray-painted “X’s” where repair work needs to be done, saying he wished someone in the media would take a picture.
CT News Junkie finally obliged him with the photos. The pro-tolls group Move CT Forward — made up of construction unions who would benefit financially from tolls and increased gas taxes — then held a press conference beneath the viaduct to be sure news cameras caught the “crumbling infrastructure” in their pictures.
But despite the repair work being done, the CT DOT confirms the viaduct is safe. Not only is it safe, the repairs being done aren’t all that expensive.
According to DOT, the repair work to the viaduct costs just under $40 million with the federal government funding 90 percent of the project. The state of Connecticut only has to pay $4 million and all those ugly spray-painted “X’s” go away.
Connecticut’s state government spends more money than that on union demands, feel-good projects and corporate giveaways without blinking an eye: lump sum payments to state employees this July will cost $104 million; the state is bailing out Hartford for $36 million every year for the next 20 years; Gov. Malloy just announced $83 million in loans and grants to Electric Boat; CTFastrak costs $18 million per year to operate.
The money is all around them, it’s just being siphoned off into whatever is politically expedient or “fun” at the time. The state government has “fun money” but the people don’t — yet some lawmakers are shocked when people get angry and speak out.
Despite the fear-mongering of collapsing bridges and crumbling streets causing car accidents, Connecticut’s DOT constantly inspects the state’s infrastructure, ensuring residents are safe to travel.
The I-84 viaduct is being repaired, but DOT notes that it will eventually need to be replaced. Proposals as to how and when to do that are still in the works. That project is many years in the future and will cost many billions.
For those big future projects, Connecticut should prioritize its spending now — not every dog-walk or bike bridge project needs to be approved; major corporations do not need taxpayer dollars; and government unions have been satiated long enough.
The time is now to change to the narrative in Connecticut. State lawmakers should either lead by reducing the tax burden, follow the people instead of their big-government puppet-masters, or just get out of the way.