Tolls bill jammed through Legislature
So far, the Lamont administration has spent its budgetary efforts on new taxes. To date they have not come up with one cost saving initiative. It is becoming more and more clear the administration will follow in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s footsteps. Although Gov. Lamont has said he will not increase the state income tax, be assured implementing tolls is not much different. This has major tax implications for residents. It is another way for the state to cover up their inept ability to manage our finances.
The Democratically controlled House and Senate jammed the Bill for Tolls through the Legislature. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (union representative) and Sen. Martin Looney took advantage of a procedural misstep by the legislature that guarantees they have an automatic approval route to the Transportation Committee. Aresimowicz described the automatic approval mechanism as a “Safety Mechanism” in case some (Democratic) legislators who vote to authorize a tolling plan have second thoughts after seeing its layout.
Now the state can dig deeper into our pockets whenever they feel the need. Like all other states with tolls, they can arbitrarily expand tolls or raise the cost of tolls whenever they deem necessary. They are not capable of managing state finances and we pay for it with a never-ending stream of tax dollars.
According to the last study commissioned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation based upon 72 toll gantries at 20 cents per mile it would cost Connecticut commuters $1.1 billion per year. The gantries would cost a minimum of $500 million to build and have an annual operating cost of $5 million (adding more state employees). Their assessment showed 72 percent of the toll revenue will be come from Connecticut residents.
For those municipalities along the interstates the outcome will create more vehicles on city streets. It will mean more gridlock for drivers and increase municipal cost in property taxes to repair and maintain city roads. Imagine the increased number of 18-wheelers on secondary roads. Worse, it will be at peak hours dictated by employers. As a small state with many small towns that have not allowed for expansion of secondary roads, the result will be stalled deliveries, late employees adding to an already not-so-business friendly state.
One can define socialism in many ways. What Speaker Aresimowicz and the Democrats accomplished using this tactic is a ruling class proletarian view of the distribution of income subject to social control by a government monarchy. Because the unions control the Democratic Party in Connecticut taxpayers continue to be an afterthought.
If government were serious about controlling spending, they can sunset or eliminate agencies and fight any loophole in the SEBAC Agreement. They can change the Defined Pension Plans moving forward to a Defined Contribution Plan where employees pay for their own pensions and not the taxpayer. Best case scenario, they have the power to repeal labor under our State Constitution and put an end to union affiliation and control of the politicians who get their funding from them.
Until we can limit the power of labor over our political system, taxpayers will continue to feed government a never-ending stream of taxpayer dollars.
William R. Bellotti is a former Deputy Commissioner for the state Department of Labor.