With gasoline prices soaring along with inflation generally, Governor Lamont and the General Assembly have suspended Connecticut’s gasoline tax until November 30, when the state election will have safely passed and voters won’t be able to do anything about the tax’s reinstatement. But the Connecticut Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf reports that two big transportation-related tax increases are still on the way.
The state’s diesel fuel tax, which is automatically adjusted every year to reflect changes in wholesale diesel fuel prices, is expected to rise sharply July 1, since wholesale prices have more than doubled in the last year. The current tax, 40 cents per gallon, may rise by 10 cents or more.
Additionally, on Jan. 1 a new tax on large commercial trucks will take effect and raise about $90 million per year.
Of course both tax increases will be immediately passed along to purchasers of whatever comes into the state by truck — that is, most things — causing still more inflation, though for most people the taxes will be hidden in the general cost of living.
Since state government has a huge cash position, largely because of billions of dollars in emergency federal aid, should the governor call the legislature into special session to postpone the diesel and truck tax increases too? The governor likes to say that he hasn’t raised taxes but the forthcoming tax increases more or less contradict him.
Meanwhile the governor and Connecticut’s members of Congress are scurrying around the state bestowing and claiming credit for various goodies that are being financed by inflation, the federal government’s excessive money creation. Since inflation is the public’s biggest problem, these goodies may not confer the expected political benefit. While it seldom hurts politically to cut taxes, Democrats hate doing it because of the pressure this imposes on spending in the future.
So there probably won’t be action on the diesel and truck taxes unless Republicans have the wit to make them a campaign issue.
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UNRULY STUDENTS: Their union complains that Hartford’s teachers are unhappy in their jobs, and not just because they consider their compensation inadequate — of course it could never be high enough for them — but also because of the disrespect and even violence the teachers suffer from students.
In the old days in Connecticut a student who attacked a teacher or was otherwise incorrigible would be expelled. But education policy now is to accept such disruptions and keep incorrigible kids around to impair everyone else’s education, in the belief that this is less costly than putting the incorrigibles on the street and risk introducing them to the criminal justice system.
Of course when kids realize that there is no punishment for misconduct in school, they happily keep at it, demoralizing everyone.
Just as violence by students in Hartford’s schools is largely overlooked, it’s forgotten now that in January a 13-year-old student stashed 40 bags of deadly fentanyl around his middle school in Hartford before suffering a fatal seizure from contact with the drug. It’s a miracle that there were no other deaths.
Being taken for granted, this misconduct degrades city schools and, increasingly, schools in suburbs and rural towns too. Equipping schools with mental health clinics, as state government plans to do, is at best only remedial. No one in authority dares to ask the crucial question: Where are all the messed-up kids coming from?
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EXCUSING CORRUPTION: New London Day columnist David Collins writes that while Connecticut’s Democratic state administration is corrupt and incompetent, especially in regard to its State Pier project in the city, he couldn’t ever vote Republican because the party harbors people who advocate voter suppression and gun rights and might like to outlaw abortion and interracial and same-sex marriage.
Nationally the Republicans do include such people, but by national standards Connecticut’s Republican Party is quite liberal and long has been timid to the point of irrelevance. There is little if any desire among Connecticut Republicans to support the potential policy changes worrying Collins.
So if Republican extremism in other states is to preclude regime change in Connecticut, the Democratic corruption and incompetence Collins complains about can’t really bother him much.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.