Just say no to Connecticut tolls

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The Connecticut Democrats have rubberstamped a deal for public sector unions that will not only require massive tax increases in three years, but require significant increases now.

Independent budget analyses reveal that even with the so-called public sector concessions, Connecticut’s budget is $3.5 billion in the hole over the next two years. Increasing the sales tax, legalizing marijuana, building another casino and increasing licensing fees will still leave a deficit of $1 billion, if not more. The reflexive liberal solution to “tax the rich” with higher income and estate taxes has been tried and has actually decreased revenue.

The wealthy, the productive, the retired and the young are abandoning our beautiful state in droves. Thus, in the political corridors of power, tolls are seen as inevitable.

This will be a disaster. Because of improved technology, tolls are much easier to collect. No traffic-congesting toll booth is necessary. All that is needed is a structure over a road that detects what are called transponders, an apparatus that is placed on the windshield that sends the toll due to an interstate collecting bureaucracy called E-ZPass. A bill is then sent to the driver.

Most drivers now have E-ZPass, but for those who do not, a picture of the license plate is taken and a bill is sent to the car’s owner. If you think that Connecticut bureaucrats have it made now with their fat salaries, six-figure pensions and Cadillac health insurance; wait until this confiscatory gold mine is foisted on the taxpayers.

Most states institute tolls with the goal of achieving 4 cents per mile from drivers. Not in the Peoples Republic of Connecticut. According to plans already drawn up by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), the goal will be 10 to 20 cents per mile. Do the math and assume 15 cents a mile.  If you drive 10,000 miles a year, that’s 1,500 smackers. And once the liberals and unions see the cash coming in, get ready to be further hosed with escalating rates.

Free health care, free daycare, free college tuition along with more bureaucratic sinecures with six-figure pensions will be on the agenda. And don’t think you can avoid these tolls by taking alternate routes. The State DOT intends to put these tolls on side roads too, not just major arteries. Remember, all you need is a structure over the road.

You may be thinking that at least everyone has to pay. Don’t bet on it. What happens if you don’t have E-ZPass and drop your toll bill in the circular file? Basically nothing. Yes, the state may make you pay your bill when you re-register your car, but what if you don’t bother? Many states with tolls don’t try to collect this money and have no mechanism for sending the bill to a collection agency.

Now you are undoubtedly consoling yourself with the thought the political hacks that foisted this literal highway robbery on you will also have to pay it themselves. Au contraire!  The politically-connected will be issued what are called “non-revenue transponders,” just like in another Democratic stronghold, Massachusetts. As the reader may have guessed, these political hacks get to drive around exempt from the tolls – just like the politicians who gave us Obamacare are exempted from it. The political class knows how to protect themselves.

Some of my otherwise sane fiscally-conservative friends like the idea of tolls, arguing that they have to pay them in other states while citizens from these states get a free ride in Connecticut. This makes no sense. Just because other states are ripping you off, why do you want to be ripped off in your home state too? These same friends also believe the money coming in from the tolls will repair our roads and bridges because the politicians will put the receipts in a “lock box” and only use the money for infrastructure repair.  If you believe this, I will gladly sell you the Statue of Liberty for a mere $1,000. Some argue that at least tolls will stabilize Connecticut’s finances. But once the Democrats control a political bailiwick, the finances are never stabilized as their base wants more and more and more.

So don’t believe any of the promises of our politicians and their acolytes in the liberal media when they extol the wonders of tolls. More money will be extracted from your pocket, and you will get nothing in return.  That is unless you are one of the many public retirees who flee the state to avoid the taxes and tolls that are bankrolling your pension and health care.

Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.

What do you think?

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