OPINION: Going around the block with tolls in Connecticut

OPINION: Going around the block with tolls in Connecticut



I’ve been around the block and then some when it comes to tolls. Extensive research, by which I mean a few minutes poking into our electronic database, indicates that I’ve been all over the place on the issue. I’ve been for tolls. I’ve been against tolls. I’ve been undecided and indecisive. You’re not supposed to do that. Ha! Good thing I’m not a politician.

You’re supposed to be consistent, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been any good at that. At one point — and this is a deep, dark secret — I was even a fan of both the Mets and the Yankees. Not precisely at the same time, of course, but pretty close. My excuse is that everybody liked the Mets at first, by which I mean their inception, because they were such stinkers. I’m not sure I want to look this up, but I’m pretty sure the Mets’ first year was the worst performance of any team in a season in terms of losses in modern baseball history. They were adorable!

Then they got good, and this came as such a surprise it wasn’t like you could stop rooting for them. They snuck past a near impossible August deficit in the standings to win the pennant while everybody was on the beach with their transistor radios, listening to Cousin Brucie. That’s 50 years ago, and the Mets’ World Series win followed the Jets and the Super Bowl and preceded the Knicks and the NBA championship. What a fun time. Now the Bruins can do the same for Boston.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. Tolls.

Look, I was so stupid I actually wrote in favor of the mileage tax. Everybody hated that one! That was like the George Harrison taxman song: if you try to sit I’ll tax your seat.

I thought it might be worth at least looking at the idea. But spending thousands of dollars, even if it’s a few thousands of dollars, tends to get people’s wrathful attention these days, and in this case the idea of joining in on a study was a bridge too far. Plus, there’s the Big Brother aspect: government spying on you while you’re out trying to get groceries, and the like. If anything, we spy on ourselves so much with selfies and social media and GPS, we should be sick of ourselves, much less the government.

Umm … tolls:

You’ve got to hand it to Gov. Lamont. It looks like he’s going to quickly get used to being unpopular, which is probably the prime requisite for a Connecticut governor these days. People are going to despise you, call you a liar and otherwise not exactly salute as you parade by.

The thing with Lamont is that he said he was just going to toll truckers (to use toll as a verb) while he was campaigning. Now he’s vigorously championing tolls for everyone on the road, and who can blame drivers for not liking it? 

One of my initial thoughts was to try to simplify the thinking. If you’re going over a bridge, it makes sense to offer some incantation, or secret password, or, in modern parlance, money, to get over the dang thing. The money goes toward keeping the bridge from collapsing, correct?

Many states have tolls, on bridges and roadways, and it makes sense to pay for their upkeep. So I thought tolls at the borders, on the major highways, made sense. But Connecticut is talking about toll structures so frequent you can already hear the cha-ching chorus adding up. It’s going to feel like your cash is getting gobbled up by a Pac-Man.

Plus, and here’s really the worry: state government has grown like a weed since the inception of the income tax. Once tolls are in, sooner or later — mark my words, as they say — the case will be made that they’re not charging enough. You really want to stick around for that?

No wonder people are against it. I think I am, too — at the moment.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com.

 


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