Thursday, May 1, 2014

Obama Says New Highway Tolls Are Okay - NOT!

The Obama administration moved to open the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs - essentially abdicating the federal government's responsibility to fund the interstate highway system.

This is very bad news for western Connecticut’s economy and environment if steps are taken to bring tolls to Connecticut’s border towns.

The proposal, contained in a White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling.

Any move to revive the idea of interstate tolls for placement in border areas like greater Danbury should be stalled immediately. Tolls on Connecticut’s western border would drive motorists to take local roads to avoid them, creating traffic bottlenecks in those neighborhoods and additional air pollution.  Border toll proponents say most of the toll revenue will come from non-Connecticut residents, but what about the person from greater Danbury who drives to work in New York, every morning?

In recent years, the State of Connecticut has raided over $187 million of taxpayer money that was supposed to be directed to transportation projects such as upkeep of roads and bridges.  Instead, that money was used to balance the state budget.

Tolls are taxes. We are overtaxed already. We need to get our spending under control.  We need to get honest in how Connecticut taxpayers’ money is being handled.

I have fought back past attempts to bring border tolls to Connecticut and I will continue strong opposition based on this week’s news from the White House.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Democrats Change Campaign Finance Rules Then Sue the Regulators

I am amazed at the brazen attitude of Governor Malloy and his minions in the Democratic Party when it comes to taxpayer-funded political campaigns. They claim Republicans are improperly spending money outside of Connecticut’s “Clean Elections” system but the Democrats changed the rules in 2013 to open the campaign cash floodgates with Republican opposition.

The Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) filed a lawsuit in federal court this week suing the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (CT-SEEC) claiming they are interfering with First Amendment rights. Ironically, the DGA is suing Connecticut (to benefit incumbent Governor Malloy) over legislation passed by the Democrat majority during the 2013 General Assembly session.

Hypocrisy has unusual bedfellows when it comes to campaign finance law. Even some Democrat activists are chiming in on Governor Malloy’s campaign strategy. Somehow Common Cause managed to twist the story of the Democratic Governor’s Association’s lawsuit against the CT-SEEC will benefit Republican Tom Foley in the race for governor.

Governor Malloy served as the finance chair of the DGA and raised $20 million for their campaign coffers. Malloy’s senior adviser Roy Occhiogrosso was paid $258,000 by the DGA for research and polling services – one would assume to benefit Governor Malloy’s campaign.

Tough topic to follow but here goes – Malloy raises money for the DGA, the DGA pays Malloy’s senior advisor for polling and research. Now the DGA wants to claim these are “independent expenditures.”

Independent of whom?

So in Connecticut we have taxpayer-funded political campaigns for voluntary participants (this author has received “grants” of roughly $85,000 in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles). The candidates for governor will receive grants of $7 million each.

The Democrats didn’t think their “clean elections program” was fair so they changed the rules to let all kinds of new money enter the “clean” campaign. Now they don’t like the rules they made so in comes the DGA from Washington.

Sound confusing? Exactly! If you listen to the Democrats this is all about fairness to overcome the millionaire Republicans. Poppycock.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CL&P Shut-Off Notices for Paying On-Time!

Numerous customers of Connecticut Light & Power Company are experiencing alarming shut-off notices and late charges for their on-time payments! Why? Because CL&P changed their accounts receivable operations to Dallas, Texas and the former two-day payment processing service in Hartford now means two weeks in Dallas.

Why would a major corporation want their payments floating in the U.S. Postal Service travelling from Connecticut to Texas? I’m sure somebody at the company has a “good” answer but it completely defies logic.

Many of my constituents have contacted me to share their frustration with CL&P’s customer service department in response to a CL&P shut-off notice. One person told me, I’ve never been late paying my bills and now they send me a shut-off notice and charge me a late fee?”

Another constituent received a shut-off notice and the power was turned off. Unfortunately, their payment was received on-time by CL&P and the power was restored. After a contentious phone call to customer service CL&P removed the “reconnection fee” from the customer’s bill.

Phone calls to CL&P often result in a response saying “don’t worry, we received your payment.” Tell that to a senior citizen who’s never experienced the alarm of a shut-off notice!

CL&P should promptly pull the plug on their new out-of-state payment operations and refund the inappropriate late fees to their customers who paid on-time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Government Spending Exceeding Constitutional Cap

It seems like yesterday, but two decades have passed since then-Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker signed a state income tax into law.

And while many of us can vividly recall the huge taxpayer rallies which were held at the State Capitol during that time, we may have forgotten that the hated tax hike was tied to a measure which restricted state government spending increases to inflation and personal income increases.

They called it the “Spending Cap” – a cap on the amount of your money our state officials could spend.  It aimed to reassure a nervous public that the tax on our personal income would not become the politicians’ license to spend.

Fast forward to today.

The income tax has not proven to be the cure-all for Connecticut’s budget problems.  In fact, it has proven to be the predecessor to a variety of other tax hikes, including the recent record-setting tax hikes on sales, estates, corporate profits and, yes, the income tax.

Meanwhile, the spending of your money has not been brought under control. Your state government continues to have a penchant for spending whatever revenue becomes available.

This year, there is a move by Democrats in Hartford to change the definition of the “Spending Cap”.  By altering the definition, the majority party would be able to enact future spending increases.  In other words, the “Spending Cap” - one of our only checks on runaway government spending - would be forever altered.

I have a big problem with that idea of handing our elected officials more blank checks to spend even more of your money, and I hope you see why.

Think of a family on a budget.  Let’s say a family has been spending more money than the household is taking in as income.  To get back on track, you agree to abide by a spending allowance of a certain amount each week.  Sure, there are temptations to spend on unnecessary items, but common sense usually prevails and the disciplined approach proves to be the best long term solution.

In the State of Connecticut’s case, changing the definition of the spending cap to suit elected officials’ spending habits would be a terrible mistake.  Our state is broke, yet we continue to borrow, tax and spend your money as if there will be no consequences to the spree.

There of course will be consequences.  They will arrive in the form of higher debt and even more taxes on our children and grandchildren.

The bill to unscrew the spending cap is House Bill 6352. I hope you will join me in opposing the move to give our legislature a license to spend.

CT Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Creates More Problems

Tonight the Connecticut Senate voted to approve allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive an official state driver’s license. Following nearly six hours of debate with minority Republicans expressing numerous concerns of identification security, the measure passed 19-16 with only two Democrats opposing the measure.

Four states currently offer licenses for undocumented immigrants – Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Two of these states have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal their law. According to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has pushed to repeal the law, arguing that it leads to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime, and significant security concerns.

Seven states previously offered licenses for undocumented immigrants but repealed their laws – Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee and California. Two of these states are reconsidering their repeal.

Why have nine states – 82% of the states currently or previously offering licenses for undocumented immigrants – repealing their laws? Sounds like problems to me!

I opposed the bill in Connecticut because the proposal clearly had many weaknesses the majority Democrats refused to address.

One of the major flaws in the bill is requiring a background check that only looks at Connecticut criminal history. Background checks required for the purchase of guns in our state requires a national criminal check yet this proposal only checks in-state criminal records. Why?

Undocumented immigrants have a high likelihood of transiency – meaning they often cross state borders. Why are the Democrats ignoring this fact? Why are law-abiding gun owners who are U.S. citizens held to a thorough national background check while undocumented immigrants in Connecticut need only have a clean record in one state to pass muster and be issued an official government identification document?

Connecticut legislators are not empowered to enact federal immigration laws. Our national illegal immigration problem must be fixed in Washington. Issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is poor public policy and should not be enacted in Connecticut until our federal government fixes our broken immigration system.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tax Freedom Day Comes LAST to CT!

Last year, “Tax Freedom Day” arrived in Connecticut May 5th. 

Tax Freedom Day measures how long Americans work to earn enough money to pay the year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. On May 5, 2012, Connecticut had the dubious distinction of being the last state to achieve “freedom.”

This year, Connecticut has finally attained tax freedom on May 13. Again, we are the last state to be free of taxes for the year. It took us eight more days to accomplish that last place finish.

And your tax freedom could arrive even later in 2014.  Why?

  • The largest gas tax hike in Connecticut history is scheduled to take effect July 1.
  • Taxes on businesses, which were supposed to sunset this year, might not.
  • State aid to cities and towns is being shifted and could result in higher local property taxes.
  • Connecticut could soon approve borrowing hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to pay for ongoing state expenses.  Guess who will be called upon to pay off those maxed-out credit card bills?
Friends, we are heading in the wrong direction.  State spending is out of control, and your taxes are hiked to pay for wasteful government programs.

Have you had enough?

I hope you will stand with me in demanding spending cuts and reductions to our highest-in-the-nation tax burdens.

How can you help?

Call your state legislators.  Call Governor Malloy at 860-566-4840.  If they don’t respond, keep calling them. 

On this “Tax Freedom Day”, we recognize that our freedom is being eroded.
Together, we can reclaim it, but I need you to demand it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Assisted Suicide in CT is a Bad Idea

I stand in firm opposition to House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. This legislation promotes the culture of assisted suicide in Connecticut, and tells citizens that suicide is an acceptable solution to life’s hardships.

I am adamantly opposed to this legislation and any attempts by government to authorize any form of assisted suicide. Suicide is wrong, especially when it is assisted by loved ones or physicians. Humans are given the gift of life. People like me who hold strong convictions in their faith believe that it is not our duty, or within our ability, to control the beginning or end of our life. With this legislation individuals will decide when their lives end, and they will be protected to have their loved ones assist in ending that life. As a faithful Catholic, I do not feel comfortable granting that authority to anyone. Life is the most basic gift of a loving God, to which humans have stewardship, not absolute dominion. No one, including the government, should ever intend to cause their own death or assist in the taking of another’s. I fear that with this legislation we are legitimizing suicide – a very dangerous precedent.

I am very concerned about the negative impacts this legislation would have on some of society’s most vulnerable populations - the elderly and the disabled. I am worried that this legislation will open the door for abuse of the elderly and disabled by allowing those around them to influence their decision to commit suicide for their own gain. This proposal has no safeguard for abuse, and there is a lack of appropriate monitoring of the mental capacity of those who will receive the lethal dose. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing when the lethal dose is administered or if it was done so voluntarily. With a lack of safeguards in place there is no way to know if suicide is what the person truly desired or if it is a priority of those around them.

In states where assisted suicide has been approved suicide rates have increased. Thirteen years after assisted suicide passed in Oregon, the suicide rate was 41% higher than the national average.

I am concerned that the same will happen in Connecticut. The Legislature should not create the culture of death that will surely come with this proposal. As elected officials and public servants we should be fostering a culture that supports those who are fighting death, whether they are elderly or sick. We should encourage them to fight with strength of character and to live the life that they have been blessed to have fully, to the very last breathe. We should not be encouraging them to give up and a way to tamper with their own fate.

I strongly urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients.