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Op-Ed: Sweep the Statehouse

September 17, 2018 By John Calabrese
Op-Ed: Sweep the Statehouse

Litchfield's John Calabrese writes that voters shouldn't forget about the fight for control of the legislature when they go to the polls this fall.

This article is opinion and based on my anecdotal perceptions.

The race for governor is in high gear, the fur is flying, and the mud is slinging. The two titans of Rock’em Sock’em robots are having a contest on whose falsehoods we should believe. But there is another entity in Hartford that has the most impact on our daily lives: the legislature.

The person occupying the governor’s chair possesses immense power, but he or she can only propose legislation. It is the statehouse that retains the absolute power of the purse strings.

For decades, the Democrats have continuously held majorities or supermajorities in both chambers. It is an impossible task for the opposition to stop or slow the pace of increased fees and searches for new sources of revenue. Legislation has been approved with enough Democratic votes without input from Republicans. This includes the budget process, tax increases, municipal mandates, and corporate regulations. The political pendulum must swing to the right to correct the mistakes made from decades on the left. The habitual tradition of redirecting special funds into the general fund [sweeping] must stop.

We have so-called “sin taxes” originally intended to encourage people to both reduce consumption and have a reliable income stream. People reduced their consumption of cigarettes and alcohol, but this also reduced the revenue from the tax. Let’s raise the sin tax, and reduce consumption and revenue even more. This is not a fiscally sound policy nor does it make sense to anyone. The goal of lowering the use of these products appears to be successful, but the reliance on the revenue is poor governance. How can the statehouse encourage the citizens of Connecticut to quit the “sins” of cigarettes and drinking, and then embrace the revenue streams from sports gambling and cannabis? If you engage in online sports gambling, the website will direct you to a help line if you have a gambling problem. If you imbibe in cannabis, you will be encouraged to call the help line if you have a drug problem. They just don’t get it.

Connecticut has the one of the highest gasoline taxes in the country, at 39.3 cents per gallon. The tax was to prompt us to conserve gas and help deposits into the Special Transportation Fund, which was also systematically diverted (swept) by the legislature over the last twenty years. We conserved gas, we bought fuel efficient cars, and then the revenue fell like a rock. So how did that work out for us? A new Democrat-controlled statehouse will install tolls throughout the entire state to recoup the money they stole to balance budgets.

There are more examples: the tobacco settlement, the lottery education fund. This is the height of hypocritical thought from Democrats hooked on the opiate of revenue. It truly is time to sweep the statehouse. Elect Republicans to both chambers. This November, Reclaim Connecticut.

John Calabrese is from Litchfield, Connecticut.

Op-eds represent the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the editorial views of Reclaim Connecticut. If you’re interested in submitting an op-ed to Reclaim Connecticut, contact Andrew Lautz ([email protected]).