Letter to Will Haskell: Toll Money Will Go Up In Smoke

Hi Will,

I noted in your Jan. 15 interview on GOOD Morning Wilton‘s “Wake Up Call” podcast that you “want 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.” I appreciate you having a forum this past Saturday in Wilton with two other legislators but unfortunately I can’t make it. With that in mind, I am writing to voice my opposition to tolls because simply put, I don’t trust you and your co-workers in Hartford with a penny of mine or anyone else’s money.

Why don’t I trust you and your co-workers? 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.

As you are aware, Connecticut has 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% of Dollars Diverted:  Of the $1.9 BILLION, only $28.5 million has been spent on programs–an unacceptable 1.5% 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, CT continues to fail
      • 1,100 CT youth become smokers each year
      • 4,000 CT residents die annually from their own smoking (that’s three people during your Legislative Breakfast)

Although you are the newest Democrat, your party has controlled the House and Senate in Connecticut for all 23 years of your 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 your senior year at Georgetown University. Using the scam I outline above, imagine your mom and dad (or the bank) handing you a check for $70,380 and you only give $1,000 (1.5%) to Georgetown and the other $69,000 (98.5%) vanishes. Would they trust you? Then you bring home a D and an F. How would your parents feel? Would you have ever made it beyond even your freshman year running this scheme? Could this scheme have lasted even four years of college let alone 18 as it has with tobacco money? I bet your parents would no longer trust you (and you see in this case, your co-workers) with their dollars. Why should voters, taxpayers and toll payers?

Thank you and feel free to visit me at 69 Range Rd..

Kevin Kane

4 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Kevin Kane:

    I agree with you 100%. I came to CT in 1967 to attend undergraduate school at Fairfield University. I really love this state and it has been good to me and my large family. I built a very successful business here which employed hundreds of people. I have heard the same arguments from CT politicians for over 50 years whether they were Democrats or Republicans. Transportation, Affordable housing, Infrastructure improvement, Education, Job creation, Property & Income taxes and look where we are? Every year they can’t balance their budget; have to take money from funds that were intended for other uses, raise taxes and fees to cover their mismanagement. Now tolls to cover their irresponsibility, no way!

    It’s a disgrace and how do you hold these elected officials accountable, you don’t. Yes, you can not re-elect them but what do you get, more of the same. If I ran my businesses and personal life, like they run the State government, I would be bankrupt and homeless. Whenever, you or I or someone who thinks like us voices an opposite opinion to theirs, we are drowned out and told we are out of touch. Hey this is Wilton and we live pretty well here because the town officials here get it and try to do the right thing for the community and businesses that live and work here. Wilton lives with its means and what does it get, criticism from the Governor. Go figure? Same comment that you made to Will, happy to have you come by the house, 33 Antler Lane for further discussion.

    ps: my daughter went to Georgetown and because my wife and I were able to provide for our kids educations, they have no student loans; another national & state problem which is growing exponentially with no clear solution in sight…

    Tom Heide

  2. Hey Tom,
    Thanks for the feedback and insights–you nailed it! I grew up in a family of 10 kids and moved to CT from Michigan in 1993 so the backdrop to my perspective, among other things, is personal responsibility. Most, not all, politicians misuse my personal dollars and I have had enough. My wife and I essentially hedged our and our sons’ future by moving to Wilton from Norwalk less than a year ago because of the changes happening that were no longer in my/our control. The only thing in my control were my own two feet, so to say–we sold and “walked” north. We are very happy with our move thus far on many fronts. Norwalk is mismanagement on steroids and is not the Norwalk my father-in-law and extended family knew over the past 100+ years there. As the amazing father to eight children, husband to a wonderful wife, and many accomplishments including the former Chief Justice of the CT Supreme Court, he is restless in his grave at the situation in his beloved Norwalk and Connecticut.
    Hats of to your successes Tom and if we meet up somewhere, the first beverage is on me!
    Kevin

  3. Kevin:

    Thanks, happy to meet you anytime. Feel free to send an email to: tom@heidellc.com
    Are we the only two people who are bothered by these issues? I’m afraid there is more apathy out there than speaking out and getting involved and that is a major concern. Let me know if you hear from the young Senator, Will Haskell.

    Take care,
    Tommy

  4. Kevin and Tom:
    I too, vote no to tolls and any other new tax our legislators propose because I don’t trust them! I write to all the politicians always asking them how they turned CT from one of the best States to live in to one of the worst! Of course, no answers! I’ve attended a meeting regarding the proposed Rt 7/Merritt Interchage project that has been delayed 12 years and is now planned to begin next year. This project is rediculous and only the DOT and their consultants are happy spending $200,000,000! They are also planning to waste our money landscaping the interchange and then having to maintain it! The funny part of this project is that all the parties live in the Hartford area and no one uses the Merritt to commute to work and don’t really understands the commuters point of view! Given our State Government deficiencies, it’s no wonder many people are planning to leave CT! I recently bought a Condo in FL
    as part of my exit strategy!

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