These Numbers Confuse Me, Plus: Smokin’ Joe

What the frig! I’m getting whiplash from all these deficit-surplus numbers. When the state legislative session started in January the state was looking at a modest surplus; then, we learn, we’re in a deficit, then a larger deficit and then–get out the razor blades–a massive deficit. Now we uncover this morning that we have a cool $70 million surplus again, and maybe higher.

Republicans in the legislature, swiping a Democratic issue, want to earmark the moolah for winter fuel assistance, a pitch they will make at a special session scheduled for Friday. (How can the Dems not go along with that?)

Me, let’s give the whole damn surplus to Bridgeport. Let’s replenish the libraries, fund the overtime deficit in the police department, juice the schools with a huge infusion. Let’s build a new bridge to Pleasure Beach. Considering the current one burnt 12 years ago, that’s not asking too much. A chicken in every pot, that’s what I say.

Let’s commission LeRoy Neiman to craft a revolutionary portrait of P.T. Barnum so Mayor Bill Finch doesn’t borrow the one hanging in the Bridgeport Public Library for his office. Let’s pay off Sal DiNardo’s back taxes. (Wouldn’t Sal love that?) Let’s buy back the Connecticut Post from the scoundrels at Hearst and make it a family newspaper again. Paging Betty Pfriem!

Let’s give the state’s largest city everything it was promised before the budget went in the crapper. Let’s use the $70 million to bribe (did I use that word?) the entire legislature into retirement, leaving only the Bridgeport delegation to carve up the spoils to an $18 billion annual budget (or whatever it is.)

Good gravy, whom among the city’s legislative delegation would you entrust with all that scratch? I say State Rep. Chris Caruso … cannoli for everyone! And let’s throw in a gelato festival for OIB friend Con Filardi.

Because, if something’s not done soon the city’s getting another state-mandated financial review board.

Okay, now that I’ve validated my financial incompetence, what would you do with the state surplus?

Shoeless Joe

What’s your take on a McCain-Lieberman ticket? I don’t think that’s going to happen. Right-wingers, pro-lifers and gun-control haters would blowtorch McCain at the GOP convention. Joe did the smart thing during all this speculation … he got the hell out of the country.



  1. And the numbers will continue to change daily up in the capitol, ’til they finally decide what to do with the money? Help with the cost of heating this winter seems like the most logical thing to do with the money, however is it just putting a temp. dressing on a gushing wound? If Rell means to run for re-election, she will push for the heating aid & Amann will not go against it, since he’s thinking of running too! A political gesture that finally, the needy will get something out of it.

  2. I think a good portion of the surplus should go to home heating assistance for the poor and eldery. With home heating fuel presently sitting at $4.12 a gallon we are on an edge where people will die without assistance.
    I would then take the remaining money and build tolls on all the major roadways entering CT. This would be a one-way toll that would produce millions of dollars in revenue that would go into the highways budget. Monies formerly allocated to road repairs could now be used to help inner cities. I can’t wait for the criticism on this one.

  3. We are one of the few if not the only state on the east coast that has absolutely no tolls on its roadways. We fund the road repairs with our taxes and get nothing in return. The tolls would be on the incoming side of the roadways thus having the trucks and out-of-state travelers helping with the road repairs and road maintainence. Both truck traffic and car traffic is expected to increase at a great rate between now and 2026.
    Monies realized from these tolls would allow more of our tax dollars to be used for other things we need in CT. The Casino area is a bonus area. If people can travel there to lose hundreds of dollars a visit they can surely afford a toll rate of $1.00. The problem is the Hartford politicians would rather raise the taxes on gasoline, cigarettes and the income tax rather than put up tolls. Maye we need to remind these Pols that the out-of-staters don’t vote in Connecticut.

  4. I’m glad to finally be reading some items that relate to b’port and the lack of development, both economic and personal, therein.

    Why can’t we get more state aid, ask the dems, they’re in control of the assembly.

    Why is the city fraught with cronyism and corruption, ask the dems, they’ve been in complete control for years.

    Before you look ONLY at defeating Shays, look inside your own house of horrors and see what complete control by one party does.

    I intend to vote for Obama, as of today, but that’s where it ends. Shays, and Russo should stay put.

    But I’d like to keep hearing about how the local dems have done “things” for b’port and deserve to be brought back into office.

    Give me facts not more fiction.

  5. Lennie:
    Commenting on your blog:
    “Joe did the smart thing during all this speculation…he got the hell out of the country.”
    Since Israel is his only concern I wish to hell he’d go there and forget about coming back.
    As for his being a VP candidate. That should insure Obama’s victory.

  6. Wondering:
    I understand your wanting to collect tolls from people entering CT from NY and RI, but lots of CT commuters would be punished. I’m not in favor of it. Give politicians the green light on this and they’ll find a way to abuse the power. You should understand, politicians are prostitutes by definition.

  7. You are right Lennie, the Republicans did swipe the issue, this was an article from the Hartford Courant last week.

    August 13, 2008
    HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30 is $85 million, according to the state legislature’s budget office.

    That’s $63 million higher than the governor’s estimate.

    Senate President Donald Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said Wednesday he wants the extra money to be set aside in an emergency account to help struggling families cover home heating costs.

    “Families across Connecticut will face a heating crisis this winter,” said Williams, who also wants to increase funding to help homeowners upgrade their heating system to more efficient and cost-effective units.

    Legislative leaders and Gov. M. Jodi Rell are finalizing plans to use $22 million of the surplus to help low- and moderate-income families with high home heating prices this winter. There are also discussions about increasing heating help for schools and nonprofit agencies.

    A spokesman for Rell said the Republican governor agrees with the new surplus figures from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, as well as the need to expand the state’s home heating assistance efforts this winter.

    Rell wants General Assembly to approve the spending during an Aug. 22 special legislative session. Lawmakers have said they’re checking to see how many members will be able to attend, given vacation and back-to-school schedules.

    Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said he supports spending some of the surplus on heating relief and adding the balance to the state’s $1.4 billion Rainy Day Fund. McKinney said he wants lawmakers to take up other energy measures as well, such as capping the wholesale price of gasoline that’s being taxed by the state.

    “We need to come in and deal with energy issues,” he said. “People in the state are being socked by high prices everywhere.”

  8. Currently, there is a bi-partisan transportation study being conducted. One of the things they will determine is whether the benefit of tolls outweighs the danger. Most bloggers will remember the deadly tanker truck accident and many others that occurred on I-95 in the late 1970’s. That was a catalyst for removing the tollbooths. Also they created terrible congestion on the roads. I don’t know if anyone travels regularly anywhere on I-95 in the state, but it would be a nightmare for commuters and you would be punishing them. You can’t give them a break because the Constitution prevents discrimination against out-of-state travelers. I am not saying tolls may not be beneficial, but we need to know what we would be getting into first.

  9. So the politicians are weighing the relative merits of the safety issue of tolls v. the benefit of revenue. There are tolls all over the county. Tragedies of the magnitude of the crash in Stratford are avoided by proper police patrol. Our highways are an abomination compared to what I have seen throughout the country. Why? Not enough visible cops. Ever notice how fast the traffic slows when a patrol car is spotted? I’m not against border-only tolls. Our highways get beat up by travels and, yes, locals. The roads have to be fixed. Why not let the people who wear out our roads pay to ensure they are safe and well maintained? BUT, WE HAVE GOT TO PUT MORE VISIBLE POLICE PRESENCE ON ALL OF OUR ROADS. Suicide 6 is a great example. They have multiple fatalities on that road each year and they can demonstrate safe conditions exist when the roads are patrolled. When the police are assigned elsewhere, the roads become unsafe and fatalities occur. A robber won’t rob a 7-11 if he sees a cop nearby. Same is true for the other brand of criminal…the unsafe driver.

  10. I’m going to vote for Obama because I am afraid of more Republican incompetence a la George W. Bush. PERIOD.

    There is a growing number of blacks out there who are rallying for Obama in near riotous and threatening form pronouncing that he is the best candidate because he is black and only because he is black.

    This is not good for Obama.

  11. Yahooy:
    I am so tired of hearing that Obama “is black”. Who came up with the definition of “black”? So far as I know he is half Negro and half Caucasian. He was raised by a Caucasian mother and Caucasian grandparents who had far more influence on him than his Negro father who left him at two years old. Accordingly, I would say that that he is more Caucasian than Negro. (In any event we used to call this combination “mulatto”.)
    Further, if I were a Negro I would take issue with being called “black”. Black by definition is “the absence of all color”. I would prefer being called “brown” which is a combination of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue.

  12. Con

    So what’s your point? I’m saying that the Obama campaign is being hurt by blacks who only see him as black. A black man wins, black men win.

    He’d get my vote if he was blue.

    If this becomes a pure race issue…Obama loses…big.

  13. Con,
    Mr. Obama is a mutt, just like the rest of us American citizens. (My ancestry is Dutch, Scottish, English, and Acadian French.) He has a great advantage over Mr. McCain. He’s a great orator, with a deeply resonant voice. And he is much younger than Arizona John. McCain will be in his 70s. He seems to be in good health for the most part, but do we really need another doddering old man in the White House? Surely Ronald Raygun was enough to put us off geriatric politicians for good.

    I agree with Lennie: there ought to be a toll plaza set up at the entrance to Foxwoods. Slot revenues are down. With all of the cars and tour buses pulling into the Mashentuckett Pequot reservation loaded with money that gets pissed away at the roulette tables and the slot machines (they are called “one-armed bandits” for a very good reason). Some of that money would go a long way toward paying for the increase in crime fostered by the gaming industry in Connecticut. Gambling is an addiction, like heroin and alcohol. Degenerate gamblers will do anything to keep the kicks coming, including larceny.

    And another friggin’ thing . . . Why is the concept of commuter rail transit between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts, such a hard thing for the legislature? No one is grokking it, not even the Governor! She merely threw money at it, appointing “a panel of experts” to conduct a “feasability study.” It is already proven that light rail transit works–just look at Metro North, fer cryin’ out loud.

  14. Obama is an AMERICAN, by the way. Not a hyphenated American, simply an American. His mother is Caucasian, his father came from sub-Saharan Africa. Does that make him a mulatto? If he was born and raised in New Orleans would his parentage make him a quadroon?

  15. Racial hostility does exist in America, but it is the gold standard that causes more discrimination. Being poor is still considered a social stigma by many people who have never been poor. Poverty knows no ethnic boundaries.

  16. While I am on a roll, how about windmill farms in Bridgeport that produce energy for free. This is a proven product and we do have areas where they can be built. Building these windmill farms could lower our energy costs. Here are a few sites for these farms.
    1. Pleasure Beach
    2. Remington Woods
    3. Ninety Acres park
    4. Fairchild Wheeler golf course
    5. Along our borders with Stratford, Trumbull and Fairfield.
    6. Out at the airport; after all we are really not doing anything out there.

  17. The accident in January 1983 at the Stratford toll plaza would not have been prevented by increased police patrols, as good an idea as they are. The tractor trailer driver, Charles Klutz (really), fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into a line of cars, igniting a fireball that incinerated those not killed on impact. I was there.

    Tolls will increase traffic, pollution and fuel consumption, and disproportionally hurt lower-income drivers, EZ Pass notwithstanding. But hey, it’s another revenue stream, so of course the hacks in Hartford, who can’t wait to get their hands on every last nickel in every taxpayer’s pocket, will ignore the real-world consequences and conclude it’s a swell idea!

  18. MCAT: There is no such law as far as discrimination against commuters. Where did you come up with that one? The tolls I spoke about are on our borders and are 1-way tolls for people entering the state.
    The accident in Stratford was caused by poor engineering. If you remember southbound heading to the toll you rounded a curve and there sat the toll booths. In todays electronic age most people using the highways have EZ pass and breeze right thru the toll booths. If there is a traffic buildup it would be in the other state’s area. I am not proposing tolls all along our highways just at the entry points.

  19. Bob my proposal for entry-only tolls will bring in much-needed revenue to the state coffers. I, like you, are paying for these road repairs. The roads are being torn up by the increased volume of truck traffic and auto traffic into Connecticut. It may hurt lower-income drivers coming into CT but should not hurt the residents as these are entry-only tolls.
    Your argument on pollution may be valid but other states seem to be handling any pollution their tolls are responsible for. EZ pass would eliminate some of the pollution problems.
    The cost of repairing our roadways is climbing every year and we are paying for these repairs.

  20. Yahooy:
    That’s exactly my point:
    “He’d get my vote if he was blue.
    If this becomes a pure race issue…Obama loses…big.”
    I don’t see him as black, blue, orange, green or any other color. He’s American and when we stop talking about color we’ll be better off for it.

  21. The surplus/deficit question can best be answered by this: EVERY state in the union is running a deficit and so-called surpluses are vanishing. I predict the $70 million surplus will turn out to be the price of a “home heating assistance bill”. The surplus is a mirage but a clever rallying call for those in favor of a heating bill. Connecticut has fantastic visability of its tax revenue and somebody probably said — (yelling) “last call for spending bills before we overspend” — and thus a special session of Connecticut’s General Assembly was convened.

  22. Tolls on our borders are a good idea. Every other state has them, so why not Connecticut? We pay to go to New York, why shouldn’t they pay to come here, it would seem fair. Maybe tolls would be a way of bringing down the gas tax that all of us are suffering from. Everyone who is against it keeps using the Stratford accident as an example, but that could have happened even without a toll booth, it was the trucker’s fault for being too tired to drive and yet he kept on going and fell asleep. He would have caused an accident even without the toll booth. I think tolls should definitely be considered at the borders and one to the casinos wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

  23. Wondering I can give you some case cites if you would like. It violates the dormant commerce clause of the Constitution. I will be happy to give you one. So Connecticut CANNOT give discounts to in-state residents. I am not making an argument one way other about tolls, because it is not a simple issue. I do think the people who live in CT near the borders of I-95, I-84, I-91, and other out-of-state commuters would be very vocal against them. That includes most of Fairfield County.

  24. As a question and matter of interest, you’ll recall that when the Byram bridge came down there was a call by the citizenry for maintenance of I-95 since the whole span was in deplorable shape. My understanding at the time was that so long as CT was collecting tolls it wasn’t able to request Federal funds for maintenance and rebuilding as necessary. Accordingly, the toll booths were removed and CT qualified for Federal funds. Therefore, I would expect that once tolls are reinstated Federal funds will no longer be available.
    It was said that Governor Ryan had been collecting tolls, depositing them in the General Fund, without maintaining the roads.
    The question is obvious.

  25. Wondering: Who says more state revenue is “much needed” aside from Hartford hacks and special interests? We were reading about a substantial surplus just today I believe. Since Mianus, road projects are all funded by the feds or through the state’s Transportation Fund, fueled by the highest gasoline tax in the country. When is enough enough?

    City Kitty: You suggest that instituting tolls will mean a reduction in the gasoline tax. Right … Oh, and quick, look out the window, it’s the Easter Bunny walking by!

  26. Wondering – your posting was right on. Out-of-state people put lots of wear and tear on our roads and they should help pay for upkeep and repairs. Why give them a free ride? Oh, and I like the Easter Bunny too, I figure the odds of him delivering us a gas tax break is better than waiting for Jody Rell to do it.

  27. What is all this nonsense about “One-Way Tolls”. Wondering wants us to believe it is only a toll for those who enter the state. Well, the people who enter the state tend to leave the state as well.

    One-Way Tolls facilitate traffic flow, that’s all. Tolls in both directions cause too many traffic tie-ups and doubles the pollutants and wastes twice as much gas.

    Speaking of gas…never mind.

  28. Wondering, to make this clear, my comments were not about about one-way tolls, they were in reference to charging CT residents less than out-of-state residents. The Ct border town residents who commute out of state would be the concern not the out-of-state people.

  29. Oh, and MCAT…you may be too young to remember the toll plates that were sold to state residents at deep discounts. The purchaser had a special lane to pass through without stopping. I guess the commuter discrimination law to which you suggest came after that if ever.

  30. If you make enough money to live in a place like Greenwich and you travel to work in New York in your car, I don’t think a $1 toll will break your bank account.

  31. Aboost you wrote “One-Way Tolls facilitate traffic flow, that’s all. Tolls in both directions cause too many traffic tie-ups and doubles the pollutants and wastes twice as much gas.” That’s the reason for the one-way toll. They can pay to come into the state and leave for free.

  32. Even if it’s just a one-way toll it will bring money to Connecticut, so it’s a win-win. Look at all those tolls on the way to Atlantic City, it’s ridiculous. Maybe having a toll at the exit for our casinos would be a good idea. If people are heading to a casino they must have money to burn anyway, so why not a $1 toll?

  33. I guess it’s better to sit around and moan about our high taxes and do nothing about them. MCAT you can send me the information and while you are at it send it to New York & other States like PA where they have one-way tolls. The first toll on I95 in New York is a one-way toll as is the Tappan Zee bridge etc, etc, etc.
    I guess we are the only state on the East Coast that gets Federal Highway funds because every other state has tolls.
    That is an argument that CT politicians have used for years and it does not hold water.
    MCAT I could care less if the out-of-state Commuters would be upset with the tolls in CT; they are not asking their states to remove tolls so that CT residents do not have to pay them. I for one have had enough of the NIMBY people.
    Bob my State income Tax and the taxes we pay for gasoline and just about everything else in this state tells me we need an alternate revenue source.
    I don’t know about anyone else but I would like someone else helping us pay the tab for road repairs.

  34. I suggest border tolls all around the city of Hartford. This way the legislators will have to pay a price for some of the nonsense they come up with in Hartford, the overpaid bureaucrats in Hartford will have to pay dearly and the lobbyists who buzz in and out of the state capitol can pay too. That ought to create some new revenues for the state.

  35. I suggest border tolls around the city of Bridgeport so that all of the suburbanites who come in here to work every day will have to pay! Oh, wait a minute; no one comes in from the suburbs to work in Bridgeport. That was dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

  36. I suggest border tolls around Steel Point. Isn’t construction supposed to start any day now? All of those people coming to shop at the mall and boutiques. All of those wealthy people living in the luxury condominiums. Oh, wait a minute; nothing is happening at Steel Point. That was dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

  37. Steel Point??? Forget Steel Point…hell…for that prime land we only got 4.5 mill for it…no wonder the former city council prez voted NO for Steel Point…4.5 mill…even in a down real-estate market 4.5 mill is nuttin for prime waterfront land…I say build a casino on that prime waterfront land and then put tolls up around it…think Trump would pay more than 4.5 mill for that prime waterfront land if he was putting up the casino???

  38. I don’t think the one-way toll is a bad idea.
    And BptFinest, For 4.5 mil it should be spelled STEAL POINT! A small cottage on the beach in Fairfield is going for a mil.

  39. I wish we could put a casino there. Trump was willing but all the people from Stamford and beyond started moaning about traffic and shot it down. Then if I’m not mistaken, the indian casinos said they’d cut off the revenue to the state if B-port got a casino. Why do we always get screwed?

  40. Law evolves:

    In a Dormant Commerce Clause case, a court is initially concerned with whether the law facially discriminates against out-of-state actors or has the effect of favoring in-state economic interests over out-of-state interests. If so, it is typically found to be unconstitutional. See Brown-Forman Distillers v. New York State Liquor Authority, 476 U.S. 573 (1986). If the law is not outright or intentionally discriminatory or protectionist, but still has some impact on interstate commerce, the court will evaluate the law using a balancing test. The Court determines whether the interstate burden imposed by a law outweighs the local benefits. If such is the case, the law is usually deemed unconstitutional. See Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S. 137 (1970).

    In evaluating a Dormant Commerce Clause challenge, a Court first looks at the language of the state statute, determining if the statute is facially discriminatory or facially neutral. If the statute is facially discriminatory, then the statute is presumed unconstitutional. Typical cases demonstrating this analysis are the City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (1978), and C&A Carbone, Inc v. Town of Clarkstown, N.Y, 511 U.S. 383 (1994).

    My last post for awhile

  41. Bpts Finest- You are dead right about STEAL POINT. Boy do people feel like fools right now. As much crap the former council president received he sure was right on about his decision he made about that project a long time ago.

    Speaking of #’s let’s talk about the former council President. Lennie why aren’t you talking about these #’s??

    Who had the Highest Turnout at a single precinct in the city??

    Not Himes. His highest margin was 380 votes
    Not Caruso. He had more schools
    Not Auden Grogins.

    It was Andres Ayala! He had 388 votes at Marin School and 281 Votes at Columbus and 170 AB’s.

    He was just beat out in total votes for State Rep by Chris Caruso and was only by about 30 or so votes.

    Talk about those #’s.

    Paging anybody that want’s to try and mess with Andres.


Leave a Reply