To the Editor
Monday night, Rep Chris Ziogas, as promised, presented the Democrat proposal on tolls and, as expected, the “facts” he and his colleagues provided served their purpose but fell short of the truth. The format of the “Forum” was a presentation followed by written questions with no discussion other than 5 minutes of comments, far different from the open dialogue featured at the Republican Forum on March 25. I have real concerns that the Democrats are not listening to the citizens and are driving forward on a budget that will extract an additional $2 billion in revenue from taxpayers for them to spend. One of the hallmarks of their toll proposal is that of the additional $800 million in toll revenue, approximately $300 million would be paid by out of state drivers. While national experience with tolls suggest that, as is their habit, they are overstating the %-age of out of state drivers and the associated revenue, in the best-case scenario, the Democrats will still extract $1.7 billion in new taxes and fees from Connecticut taxpayers if all their plans go through. Thanks for saving us by tolling the Out of Staters.
1. Rep Ziogas stated that 45% of Bristol residents never leave the city and only 16% would be affected by tolls. Yet, the US Census Bureau reported that 45% of the Bristol workforce travel between 10-50 miles to and from work and, with the current tolling plan, would most definitely be affected by tolls.
2. The Democrats slammed the Republican Prioritize Progress bonding plan for adding interest payments to our children and grandchildren and for cutting out needed monies for School construction, workforce grants, municipal grants, and UCONN, among others. I think they need to finally read the plan to discover that all the needed and statutory obligations for school construction, etc. are met. The Republican program eliminates the “nice-to-haves” that are popular with the Democratic leadership in election years.
3. Services provided to Bristol residents, such as Home Care, Meals on Wheels, etc. that must travel on the tolled highways, will become more expensive and difficult to manage. The impact will not just be on the 16% leaving Bristol, as Rep Ziogas stated.
4. Any goods delivered by truck will cost more as the trucking industry is already being taxed by the State and will most certainly pass along the new costs. So, citizens who don’t drive will still be negatively impacted by tolling. This fact was ignored in their presentation
As the questions were answered by Rep Ziogas and his colleagues, other questions were raised about the overall impact of the tolls, the Minimum Wage increase, the new Family Medical Leave payroll tax, the addition of legalized Marijuana and the associated costs, it struck me that there has been total silence from the Bristol City leadership about the impending impact on the hard-working middle class in Bristol.
Silence is being complicit.