Op-Ed: How Much More Can We Pay?

Connecticut does not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.

As North Haven’s State Representative, I always strive to ensure that my votes are in line with the views and values of the hard-working people I represent. The 2019 Legislative Session began on January 9th and will come to a close on June 5th. Some of the most disturbing proposals introduced by Democrats in the legislature and our Governor are the tax increases on the already overwhelmed taxpayers of this state.

Connecticut is one of the highest taxed states in our country, and yet there are still new proposals introduced this session to implement taxes on anything from sports and recreational activities to camping, home heating oil, sugary beverages, textbooks, and non-prescription drugs – just to name a few. Many of these proposals only seek to find new revenue streams without consideration for the repercussions that additional taxes would have on seniors, families, and local businesses. How much more can we pay?

I am continuously stopped by constituents who tell me how difficult it is for them to live or run a business in Connecticut, which I fully understand as a small business owner myself. For forty years the legislature has responded to pleas to improve our business climate and the concerns of our middle class with crippling tax hikes on Connecticut’s taxpayers.

One of the most controversial topics discussed in the legislature has been the topic of tolls. Yet despite the public’s recent outcry in opposition to tolls, on March 20th all Democrats on the legislature’s Transportation Committee voted in favor of moving three toll-related bills out of the committee, including legislation directing the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to draw up a plan to place electronic tolls along I-95, I-91, I-84 and Route 15 – this plan requires federal approval.

These toll bills will now head to other committees, including the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, which I am a member of. You can rest assured that I will be a “No” vote and hopefully enough members will join me in doing so to keep this from moving forward.

Connecticut cannot continue to place the burdens of this state on the backs of taxpayers and businesses. If you are interested in learning more about tolls in Connecticut or just want to share your concerns or get your questions answered, I invite you to join me at an informational forum that I will host on Monday, April 22 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at North Haven High School (Theater) located at 221 Elm Street in North Haven.

Tolls are not the only viable solution to fix the state’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure issues, and by no means should it be considered the primary source of funding. Instead of implementing tolls, which would essentially equate to the largest tax increase yet, we need to look for ways to find efficiencies in government. For three years now Republicans in the legislature have put forth a proposal on how to fund transportation projects. This proposal, called Prioritize Progress, was continuously overlooked by majority party Democrats in the legislature. Governor Lamont and majority party Democrats have instead endorsed proposals for tolls that have ranged from 53 tolls up to 82 tolls, in order to raise $1 billion. This amounts to about $1,000 to $1,500 per vehicle depending on commutes, plus any other increase in consumer goods and services passed down as a result of the mileage tax. Proponents of the toll proposals fail to mention that well over 60 percent of toll revenue would be paid by Connecticut drivers. Currently the state collects approximately $2.5 billion in taxes, federal dollars for roads, bridges, DOTs budget, and funds for transportation-related purposes. Again, how much more can we pay?

Rather than shoving the idea of tolls down the throats of Connecticut taxpayers, disguised as the only option to fund transportation projects, we should be discussing alternatives that do not result in government further reaching into taxpayers’ wallets as they drive to and from work or carry out their day-to-day activities. We should be doing all we can to save our taxpayers more of their hard-earned money not conjuring up ways to take more.

Connecticut does not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. Rather than turning into the most heavily tolled state in the country, I propose that we fix our issues by prioritizing our spending, finding efficiencies and implementing long-term plans for Connecticut’s infrastructure future – this is how we can improve our bridges, buses, trains and roads.

Dave Yaccarino
State Representative – 87th District

Posted by Chris

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