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OPINION: Connecticut considers sin taxes and tolls

OPINION: Connecticut considers sin taxes and tolls

“This isn’t about generating revenue, this is about changing behavior. Behavior that leads to healthier lives and a better environment.”

That was Ryan Drajewicz, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief of staff, explaining recently why the governor is planning to slap special taxes on sugary drinks (projected to bring in $163.1 million in 2021) and plastic bags ($30.2 million).

Oh — and he also wants to tax those little “nip” liquor bottles that are trashing up places like the Meriden Green (though this one’s not really a tax, just a 5-cent deposit), along with legal and accounting services (but retail only; business-to-business services will stay exempt) and interior design, real estate, veterinarian services, digital downloads, home renovations, winter boat storage, over-the-counter drugs, and newspaper and magazine sales.

Now he tells me. And all this time I thought he wanted to tax all this stuff in order to raise the hundreds of millions of bucks he figures it will bring in, so he can apply that to the $3.5 billion hole in the next two-year budget. 

Silly me.

But if it’s not meant to raise all that cash, why doesn’t Mr. Lamont just go on TV every day and lecture us about our allegedly bad behavior?

And while he’s at it, he can also place scoldy ads in all the newspapers — that might make up for what they’ll lose in sales when he starts taxing them.

But at least he warned us of what’s to come, so I can get started with my personal austerity program.

I’ll give up sugary drinks, of course — who wants to pay one-and-a-half pennies per ounce on that stuff when I can just switch to Tab (do they still make Tab?) or something. I’ll just ignore all those worries about diet soda being worse for you than sugar.

And no more little “nip” bottles for me, nosiree. I can also save on interior design services (I can always move the couch myself, and fluff the pillows while I’m at it. I trust that won’t qualify as “home renovations,” which will also be taxable).

And what about over-the-counter drugs, huh? Last fall, my doctor told me to get some Mucinex for my bronchitis. But if I nag the doc for a prescription next time, does that mean I won’t have to pay sales tax? Inquiring minds want to know.

At least I won’t have to worry about the new tax on veterinarian services; little Sparky the Cat departed years ago. (R.I.P., Sparky.) Or the tax on winter boat storage; fortunately, both my winter and summer boats are imaginary.

But it looks like tolls are not going to be imaginary. At first, I thought I’d be exempt because I drive a very small sedan, not a monstrous 18-wheeler such as the ones we like to blame for ruining our roads, the ones we assume are somehow all from out of state.

Now it seems that very small sedans will also be punished, and I can only pray there won’t be a toll gantry at the bottom of my dead-end street.

Will I be able to go to Stop & Shop without paying a toll? How about work? Please tell me that at least the Chamberlain Highway will stay toll-free.

Reach Glenn Richter at