Opinion by Rep. Rob Sampson – “Beware of Gimmicks”

Posted on August 16, 2018 by admin


This month I thought I would share a few more reasons we need change in our state government.   In July, Governor Malloy chose to forgo our rule of law and system of government to force the passage of his ridiculous $10 million “study” for tolls through the Bond Commission and then authorize the spending via executive order. My colleague and dear friend Senator Joe Markley is doing his best to use the courts to stop this injustice and I hope he prevails.

The bonding for this wasteful expenditure passed by a vote of 9-3 with the only two Republican members of the Bond Commission, and one Democrat, voting against it. Amazingly, the state’s treasurer, Denise Nappier, abstained because she did not want her position on the record. Surely Connecticut’s top financial officer would want a say in this matter, or so you would think.

The governor’s shameful misuse of $10 million is a perfect example of why our state’s finances are in shambles. That’s $10 million that could be used to repair a bridge, or a few roads, or perhaps a stretch of highway heavily traveled during rush hour. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be a priority to our current leaders.

My house Republican colleagues and I led the charge to stop this madness by submitting 71 letters (one from each member of our caucus) to the Secretary of State’s office requesting a special session. Unfortunately, only a few Democrats joined us, leaving us short of the 76 required signatures needed to force a special session. I was disappointed, but not surprised.

That brings us to the infamous transportation “lockbox,” which I have debated numerous times on the House floor and during our most recent Government Administration and Elections Committee meeting just as the Bond Commission was approving the $10 million for the toll study in the next room.

This item will appear on the ballot in November giving us the choice to make an amendment to our state constitution providing for a “lockbox” on transportation funds. Unfortunately, the language in this amendment does no such thing. It will not protect transportation funds, nor prevent the state government from continuing the irresponsible spending practices and mismanagement they are becoming famous for.

Make no mistake – the lockbox is just a gimmick. There are no protections for Connecticut citizens or guarantees that money placed in this lockbox will be used solely for transportation improvements. The money that would go into the lockbox can be changed by a simple majority vote of the legislature and the money spent on “transportation purposes” can be redefined at any time in the same way. Essentially, the Governor and legislature can do what they have always done and choose to misuse our hard-earned tax dollars.

The best example is the so-called “Special Transportation Fund” itself. This is already the same kind of lockbox where money is supposed to be set aside for that purpose. Sadly, it has been repeatedly drained, swept, or circumvented repeatedly since its inception. A new “lockbox” will not stop that.

Vote either way I say since it makes no difference. However, my fear is that the transportation “lockbox” is simply being used to convince voters that an increase in the gas tax or tolls is necessary to fix our roads and bridges. Don’t believe it. As I said in the meeting, we don’t need any more gimmicks, we simply need responsible people in our state government who will make maintaining our transportation infrastructure a priority.

The State of Connecticut takes in plenty of our tax dollars every year. As I said in a previous column, the state is not necessarily broke, but it is broken. The state takes in more money in taxes every year than the year before. Sadly, it also spends exponentially more also.

We don’t need any new tolls or taxes. Rather, we need to control wasteful spending and elect good people to make responsible decisions on how it is spent. I am hopeful about the future, however, and can’t wait to work with people who truly want to restore the prosperity of our beautiful state.

As always, my door is open to you. Please contact me whenever you’d like to discuss an issue important to you. I deeply value the opinions of my constituents and I look forward to hearing from you. You can find me at www.repsampson.com.