Connecticut residents have been around the block and back, and then some, when it comes to tolls. First, it was going to be trucks only. Then it was going to be everyone. Then it was back to trucks only. For a thankfully brief moment there was the idea of a mileage tax, which was almost like taxing the air you breathe and spying on you for good measure. Everyone hated that one.
So you can imagine why it might be a subject that would provoke skittish behavior — but I have to say that what I didn’t see coming was simultaneity, a particular bit of silliness that is going on even as we speak.
Here’s the setup, as reported recently by Mark Pazniokas for The Connecticut Mirror. Both House and Senate — both controlled by Democrats — have the votes to pass legislation that will tax tractor-trailers. But, and this is where the skittishness comes in, nobody wants to go first.
Now right off the bat I would observe that it’s reasonable to expect lawmakers to have the courage of their convictions. And that’s what we observed in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. You saw a lot of people, including a few that worked at the White House who since have been punished, displaying courage on behalf of the American people.
In Connecticut, Democrats do not appear to be so brave.
So, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, of Berlin, and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, of New Haven, have been compelled to coddle their ranks. As Pazniokas put it, they have to convince “their rank-and-file that the other chamber’s count can be trusted.”
Let’s pause, for a moment, to ponder how pathetic that is, and move forward.
There’s a little bit of trickery that will allow Democrats in each chamber to hedge their bets by voting at the same time. The problem is, you can’t vote on the same thing at the same time. But what you can do is debate and then vote on identical bills at the same time — and then somebody will have to vote twice to make it into a verity.
Now you and I can say how ridiculous this sounds, but the fortunes of democracy grant us at least two political parties, and you are right in betting that the Republican minority was not going to let it pass without ridicule.
So here’s Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven: “Think about the silliness of this — foot dragging until one chamber catches up to the other? If that doesn’t speak volumes in this building, then nothing else does. That’s just silly. It’s lunacy. It’s absurd. It’s laughable.”
Way to sling the nouns and adjectives!
Let’s consider the potential consequences. Not all that long ago there was a plan to set up tolls on both cars and trucks at 50 spots across the state. My worry all along was that this would become a kind of feed-the-beast situation. How long would it take before these gantries, or whatever you want to call them, having been established along our roadways, would become more hungry for your cash? It’s like the income tax, right? If you’ve been around a while as a Nutmeg State resident it’s hard not to think of that. At one time there was no income tax. Now what do we have?
Similar fears can be extended to tolls for trucks. If the majority party truly feels it’s what’s best for Connecticut, members owe it to the state to stand up and be counted. What the state deserves is not tricks but leadership.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.