Gladstein: Republican Plan, “Prioritize Progress” Will Add Billions to CT’s Balance Sheet

Letter to the editor from Gina Gladstein, Vice Chair Greenwich Democratic Town Committee

First, I would like to say, I get it. I understand people’s frustration with government in general, and Connecticut government in particular. We send a lot of hard-earned income up to Hartford and we often feel they do a poor job administering our tax dollars effectively and efficiently.

On the other hand, everyone agrees we need infrastructure improvements to attract new businesses to grow our economy. Where we differ is how we get there.

The Republican plan, Prioritize Progress, rightly points out we need 65 billion dollars to fully upgrade and improve our transportation infrastructure. It recommends we borrow 750 million dollars annually in general obligation bonds to cover these needed expenditures. In 10 years, we will have added 7.5 billion dollars in debt to our balance sheet. In 30 years, approximately 22 billion. Repayment of this debt will be shouldered 100% by CT taxpayers. This increased indebtedness will jeopardize our credit rating which will increase our cost of borrowing and scare off business and private sector investors in our state. We know this to be true because Governor Lamont’s debt diet has already yielded an improvement in our credit rating. In addition, the Business Council of Fairfield County, a bipartisan group of business leaders, have emphatically come out in support of Tolling. That is why I oppose the Republican plan to increase our long-term debt obligation. As to the argument that tolls are a regressive tax, I agree it represents a greater proportional cost to those who can least afford it. The current legislation under consideration will mitigate this effect with reduced rates and/or tax rebates for
low income drivers and small businesses.

With tolls, we can invest in high speed rail as well as institute congestion pricing. Reducing congestion will improve our travel time and our air quality. All of these infrastructure improvements will increase our attractiveness to new businesses. New businesses will result in an influx of new residents. New businesses and residents will result in a greater revenue stream and increased property values. I think you see where I am going with this. And finally, let’s not forget at least 30% of the cost will be covered by out of state drivers who currently use our roads for free. No, I don’t like Tolling, but I support them given the alternative.

Gina Gladstein
Vice Chair Greenwich Democratic Town Committee