By Stephen Knight
The Democratic party that has controlled the state for decades has stooped to a new low during this election year. It has now come to the point where they are attempting to bribe us into voting for them with our own money. Our country’s political history is rife with examples of bribing people with money raised by the parties themselves, but now tax money is being used.
There are two blatant state government examples that this column will outline: The $1,000 payments promised to essential workers and the retail gasoline tax “holiday.”
$1,000 payments to private-sector essential workers: Remember, these are the same people who pay all kinds of state taxes every day. Sales taxes, income taxes, car taxes, gas taxes, as well as fees of all kinds go in to funding state government, and everyone pays at least some of them. But this is an election year, and what better way to purchase votes from hundreds of thousands of voters than to hand them $1,000.
These essential workers certainly deserve our thanks. They stayed on the job during a first-ever pandemic, while everyone who could stayed at home and, if their job still existed, got paid. And if there were a way to reduce their tax burden during the pandemic while they were working instead of waiting until it was election time, there would be reasonable justification. But writing $1,000 checks?
And further proof that this is bribery was the rushed and sloppy way it was designed and funded. Did any research go into determining how many people might be eligible? Obviously not, since the $30 million allocated would only provide these payments to 30,000 people. Over 173,000 have applied. If all are eligible, the bill skyrockets to $173 million. And now Democratic leadership is running to the microphones promising a special session to add more money. In other words, what they’re saying is we must vote to keep Democrats in office to make sure the government comes through with the full $1,000 for everyone.
The gasoline tax holiday: As discussed in this space back on March 31st, this gesture is meaningless to the average car driver, who would save approximately $3.13 per week, while the state would forego $30 million a month in desperately needed revenue to begin to bring our roads and bridges up to standard. Not only did the suspension go through, but it was extended to … wait for this … November 30th. Now why did this become the magic date? Why, look at this. It’s only a few weeks after election day!
And consider this: On September 29th, House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, announced their intention to call a special session of both houses to possibly extend this gas tax holiday through the winter months. Again, what they are really saying to Connecticut voters is if you want your bribe to continue through March, you’d better vote for us Democrats in November.
On the same day as our state legislative leadership announced that they want to continue to lose $30 million a month in gas tax revenue for another four months, the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers released their 2022 Connecticut Infrastructure Report Card. In that report, Connecticut’s roads received a dismal and shameful D+. (https://infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/connecticut/) Their website also stated: “
34% of roads are in poor condition. Each motorist pays
$711 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.”
Every motorist in this state knows darn well that it takes money to build and repair the roads they drive on. And the gasoline tax is about the only tax we all pay where we actually see the benefits — assuming that this same state legislature doesn’t begin plundering the Special Transportation Fund as they have done in the past.
My wife Cathy and I just returned from a trip, much of which was spent in Norway. This country is awash in oil and gas revenue, yet their citizens are paying the equivalent of $8.00 a gallon for gasoline. When asked why the high taxes on gasoline, the common answer we received was: We know that it is expensive to build roads in a country that’s all mountains and fjords like Norway. We know that if we want good roads, we must pay for them. It’s that simple.
Our state government has lost that sense of responsibility. Job One is no longer careful fiscal management. It’s Get Re-elected First and Maintain Power at All Costs. And all too many of us are falling for it.
Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.