I noted in the Jan. 15th podcast with Heather from Good Morning Wilton that State Sen. Will Haskell wants “to hear directly from constituents…not just people who agree with me..the entire point is to hear from those with the opposite opinion and learn from each other.” With that in mind, I am writing to voice my opposition to tolls because simply put, I don’t trust Sen. Haskell and his co-workers in Hartford with a penny of my or anyone else’s money.
Why don’t I trust them? Because the toll money will be stolen and moved to cover expenses other than transportation in the same absurd manner that is being done out of the massive Tobacco and Health Trust Fund.
Connecticut received $1.9 billion from the tobacco settlement and the fund was created in 2002 to distribute funding to a variety of programs designed to reduce the prevalence and impact of tobacco use. Consider this small sample of woefully unacceptable statistics about the money and disastrous outcomes:
- Stolen money: The fund has been raided 67 times by the State legislature
- 98.5 percent of dollars diverted: Of the $1.9 BILLION, only $28.5 million has been spent on programs – an unacceptable 1.5 percent of proceeds (I’ll come back to this pathetic percent)
- Another skipped deposit in 2019: Connecticut has contributed $0 to tobacco prevention efforts for the fifth year in a row
- Failing grades: This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association gave Connecticut these pathetic grades:
· Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
· Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D
- Awful outcomes: despite Billions available, Connecticut continues to fail
- 1,100 Connecticut youth become smokers each year
- 4,000 Connecticut residents die annually from their own smoking (that’s about one person during Sen. Haskell’s Town Hall Breakfast)
Although Sen. Haskell is the newest Democrat, his party has controlled the House and Senate in Connecticut for all 23 years of his life. So to articulate this clear violation of trust to a personal and analogous level, recall that tuition, fees, room & board was $70,380 for his Senior year at Georgetown University.
Using the scam I outline above, I ask him to imagine his mom and dad (or the bank) handing him a check for $70,380, and he only gives $1,000 to Georgetown. The other $69,000 vanishes – would his parents trust him?
Then he brings home a D and an F. How would his parents feel? Would he have ever made it beyond even his freshman year running this scheme? Could this scheme lasted even four years of college let alone 18 as it has with tobacco money? I bet his parents would no longer trust him (and you see in this case, his co-workers) with their dollars. Why should voters, taxpayers and toll payers?