To the Editor:
If you are a working-class citizen like me, your family’s budget has undoubtedly been affected by the skyrocketing prices at the grocery store and the fuel pump. While we are in an inflationary spiral, caused by the uncontrolled borrowing and spending by Washington politicians, and the disastrous reversal of U.S. energy policy, governments big and small should be looking for creative ways to lower the price burdens on their constituents.
During this election year, you will hear Connecticut Democrats on the campaign trail touting tax cuts and a 25-cent per gallon gas tax holiday, but what you will not hear is that the gas tax relief never applied to diesel, even though it’s the diesel that’s really putting the inflationary pressure on our goods. What you will also not hear, is that the estimated increase in cost of living per family currently stands at $5200 per year, nor will you hear about the additional costs they voted to impose upon you during the assembly session.
On April 29th, Connecticut House Republicans put forth an amendment to the Connecticut Clean Air Act, which sought to repeal the Highway Use Tax (HUT). HUT, which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2023, is a per-mile tax applied to trucks, scaled by weight of the vehicle. The amendment, which was co-offered by the Republican Nominee for Lt. Governor, Representative Laura Devlin (134th Assembly District), failed on a 53-94 vote, with only one Democrat, Representative Jill Barry (31st Assembly District) joining the Republicans.
I’m sure you are asking at this point, “How is this a vote to raise prices? This affects businesses, not my family.” Ronald Reagan once said, “You can’t tax business. Business doesn’t pay taxes. It collects taxes”. And that is exactly what we are going to see in Connecticut next year if we don’t act now to ask for the HUT’s repeal.
Some Connecticut-based distributors of fuels and consumer goods are estimating that the new tax will cost their companies upwards of $7,500 per truck per year. Make no mistake, this new tax will directly impact the costs you incur to drive to work, feed your children, and to keep them warm at home this winter. Families are already cutting back on their weekly grocery purchases, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from April 2022 highlights year-over-year U.S. city average price increases of rice (+15%), beef (+16%) and eggs (+55%), to name a few essential food items; that Democrats would intentionally add a tax that will increase the cost of these goods is hard to comprehend.
Additionally, that this tax is slated to begin during the winter, when home heating fuel (diesel) usage enters peak season, and families are toiling with how to pay their energy bills, makes this even more difficult to accept. One Fairfield neighbor recently shared his home heating fuel delivery receipt – he paid an astonishing $6.249 per gallon. To put this in perspective with our prior household budgets, these current prices are up nearly 100% since January 2022 ($3.329 per gallon), and 250% ($2.452 per gallon) since January 2021, when the Biden administration first took office. I am penning this letter in May. Can you imagine what the price will look like in the peak of winter when the State starts taxing delivery trucks carrying home heating fuel to families? This tax will not be absorbed by the fuel delivery companies, it will be handed on to your family. The Democrats’ decision to vote against the repeal of the HUT is, frankly, cruel, and shows how out of touch their party is with the communities they claim to support.
Our working-class families are hurting and barely making ends meet. Now is not the time for new taxes, and it certainly isn’t the time to be taxing the transportation of goods. Given that on November 15, 2021, Connecticut was awarded $5.38 billion by the Federal government for use on infrastructure, voting against this price-increasing tax before it went into effect was the right thing to do for Connecticut businesses and families. I applaud the House Republicans for understanding the HUT’s impact on us and for their efforts in reducing transportation costs in Connecticut. I am disappointed in the Democrats, especially my current State Representative and opponent, Cristin McCarthy-Vahey (133rd Assembly District). Ultimately, they didn’t deem this amendment worthy of consideration, and voted against our families, and in favor of raising the price of goods that impacts the most economically vulnerable in our community.
Grant is the Republican Candidate for the 133rd District and operates a family-owned logistics company in Stamford.