Letters to the Editor: State of the town, State legislature needs to act to retain our seniors

To the Editor:

We at Fairfield Senior Advocates (FSA) are appreciative of the efforts of our State delegation in representing the interests of Fairfield seniors. Most recently, they voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto and fully fund a program that uses Medicaid funds to help poor elderly and disabled patients pay for health care costs not covered by Medicare.

In the Legislature’s upcoming session there will be pressures to increase State revenues and to undo last year’s gains that would reduce the burden on senior taxpayers. Continued attempts by the State to reduce funding to towns and to transfer State costs onto the backs of town property taxpayers can also be expected.

Last year’s wins for seniors included (1) a higher income threshold for exemption from the State income tax on Social Security benefits (that starts 1-1-19), (2) a phased in exemption from State income taxes on pension and annuity income (for taxpayers with Individual/joint Incomes less than $75K/$100K (again starting 1-1-19), and (3) an increased attachment point for the estate tax. Degradation of any of these actions would be discouraging to seniors.

In truth, more could have been done - and needs to be done - to preserve our seniors. For example, as State finances become more stable, the Social Security tax on income for all seniors should be eliminated. As FSA demonstrated to the Legislature last year total elimination of this type of tax could leave State coffers in a better than otherwise position - by keeping more seniors and their other tax revenues.

No state more desperately needs to retain its senior residents than Connecticut. Our seniors have been driven out through a series of State actions amounting to “death by 1,000 cuts”. We desperately need a continuing series of small wins for seniors at all income/asset levels that send the message “You matter to us“.

Fairfield Senior Advocates is a nonpartisan citizen action group dedicated to improving life for seniors, whose retention we believe to be critical to the finances of all State and Town residents.

Urb Leimkuhler


To the Editor:

It was about 7:30 p.m. So I took my seat in the second row at Osborn Hill School. Our First Selectman, Michael Tetreau was going to give his speech about the state of the Town of Fairfield. As the row next to me filled up with students, I realized that they were there as part of a Civics Class from our local high school. They took notes and were intent listeners.

Just think, I may have been sitting near a future leader of our town. As you may know, Mr. Tetreau is a product of our Fairfield Public Schools and Princeton University. His late Dad, Coach Fern Tetreau was a school administrator and had a coaching career. The lessons that these students from Mr. Flynn's class, were far more that a task. They observed our elected town leaders at this meeting.

The level of respect and focus made me proud of them. They happen to be from Fairfield Warde. I am an alumnae of Andrew Warde. Now as this meeting went on to the regular business of the R.T.M. ( Representative Town Meeting), the teachers' contract came up for discussion. They heard so many people praising and stating how committed they were to education. A litany of how their relatives were involved in education. I must admit, some of them droned on and on. If only they had a quick lesson in brevity. Sometimes less is better.

This group of young adults maintained their focus. Now their teacher, was at a meeting were he serves his community on its Board of Education. When he arrived and did speak, his students stood up. There was so much learning going on last evening. Bottom line was the eleven in the Minority tried to wrap themselves as education advocates. Their votes proved otherwise. The Majority of twenty-four prevailed. So now that we are moving on, we need to focus on giving each child the best that we can afford. They only travel on this education journey once. We have a competent Board of Education and a separate Board of Finance. May we all work together and not dictate to each other.

We have so many superstar educators. Mr. Flynn should be in the running for Teacher of the Year. His class assignment will leave a lasting impression on these young adults.

Susan P. Barrett


To the Editor:

Regarding Jim Cameron’s column (“Drivers need to pay their fair share”) I agree that tolls and increased gas taxes are the way to fund road and bridge repairs. I am a big believer in user fees.

People were used to paying high prices for gasoline just a few years back. Now that the cost is lower, the added taxes are more easily absorbed.

The big challenge would be to earmark these taxes for transportation only.

Our liberal Legislature will be tempted to grab the funds and channel it to one of the myriad of safety net programs.

Guy Hatfield


To the Editor:

Once again state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, is spewing words of insanity regarding the installation of automated tolls. She believes the residents of the state should be responsible for funding the government via tax increases, and vehicular transportation through Connecticut should be free.

It is insane not to want to allow interstate traffic to contribute to the state’s infrastructure. One of the reasons Connecticut is the only state in America that shows negative growth is because you can’t get in and out of the state via the highway system.

Stop your nonsense about trains! Trains are effective and are pretty much at capacity during rush hour. The responsibility of government is to listen to the people of the state and heed their words.

Boucher was a leader in the demise of the cancellation of the Super 7 expressway, which would have connected the greater Danbury area with South Western Fairfield County. It would have been the only north-south route in Fairfield County. Keep in mind the state did purchase all the property to build such an expressway and she was responsible for all that money and time being wasted.

Every other surrounding state has tolls. Connecticut drivers pay those tolls. It’s time for drivers to pay in Connecticut. We are broke! Boucher is a root cause.

What the government should do is allow Connecticut commuters to deduct the toll charges on their taxes.

Government officials in Connecticut, such as Boucher, should be ashamed of themselves for not providing adequate roadways for commuters.

We need new government in Connecticut. We need to start by asking Wilton to dump Boucher. This isn’t a party issue. It’s a sanity issue.

Lanny Goldman


To the Editor:

Connecticut has long been the only Eastern Seaboard state without electronic highway tolls — the E-ZPass system. Now with his term expiring, Gov. Malloy, mindful of the expected $4 billion budget deficit he’ll be leaving his successor — identical in size to the one he inherited — has advocated reinstalling highway tolls.

Highway tolls generate large sums. Hundreds of millions can be expected. Some estimates are as large as $400 million to $500 million annually. Perhaps 25 percent would come from out-of-state pass-through traffic, the remainder from Connecticut residents/businesses, thereby demonstrating tolls are just another user fee in an already highly taxed state.

However, tolls provide an unusual opportunity to introduce Time-of-Day toll pricing used successfully the world over to reduce congestion. The basic idea is to free up highways for those who have high priority use during high commute times, e.g., early mornings and late afternoons, and shift commercial and other traffic into other times through offering lower tolls.

Electronic tolls have also been used to control speeding and assist with stolen vehicles. Any regular user of Connecticut’s major highways can attest highway speeding is endemic. Given the numbers of fatal accidents, tolls can be justified as a life-saving enterprise. Commercial truck drivers in particular would be far more concerned about speeding with toll identification.

In a nutshell, there aren’t many new ideas that would improve life on our notoriously overcrowded state highways. But electronic tolls with Time-of-Day toll pricing is one of them.

Peter I. Berman