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Tolls Just Another Expense For The Middle Class

Published: August 8, 2018

To the Editor:

In response to the letter “Time for Tolls” I have to respectfully disagree with the author. The study being forced through by Governor Malloy and put on the state’s credit card is not the first tolls study, but the fourth. How many times do they need to look at the same issue before they stop wasting our money on it?

The notion that we could toll only out of state drivers is illegal, according to the Connecticut Post. The plan to circumnavigate this consists of giving Connecticut residents a tax credit to offset toll charges, but in a state with multi-billion dollar deficits, how long do you think that tax credit will last? The 2015 study estimated 70 percent of the costs would be paid by in-state residents.

Ultimately, this will be another tax on Connecticut families. Based on data from the Connecticut DOT [Department Of Transportation] a Newtown resident who commutes to Hartford would pay $890 per year after the proposed discounts. Will the high gas tax be reduced enough to offset these costs?

How can any politician say they intend to fund transportation without a true lock box? Every attempt to implement one has been gutted and what is left is a farce that can be raided at will. When funds go back into the general fund it is simply another tax.

Connecticut has a spending problem. According to an analysis by The Reason Foundation of the numbers our state files with the federal government, Connecticut spending is out of control at $497,659 per state-controlled mile of road building and maintenance, compared to the national average of $178,116. Of that, $99,417 were Connecticut’s administrative costs, several times the national average. Connecticut DOT disputes these numbers, because of course they do, after decades of bloated bureaucracy, inadequate performance, and amidst soliciting more funding.

Ask yourself how often promised and funded state projects come up short, over budget, and behind schedule? Is anyone ever accountable? Why did the state Democratic Party pay $325,000 to the SEEC [State Elections Enforcement Commission] after accusations of alleged state contractor campaign contributions? We may never know, but the optics are bad, and public trust is low.

What the pro-tolls folks don’t get is that these costs don’t bother the wealthy one-percenters they decry. However, it is another on the list of expenses shouldered by the middle-class commuter who is under-employed and living paycheck-to-paycheck just to keep their family above water. Before any out-of-touch politician asks for more of our hard-earned incomes, they should first prove that every dime of current roads funding is being put to its intended purpose as efficiently as possible to ensure the best return on our investment ahead of charging a penny more. It is hard enough to get by in the state.

As always, my comments are my own and not on behalf of the Legislative Council of which I am a member.

Ryan Knapp
11 Jeremiah Road, Sandy Hook         August 8, 2018

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