Let’s Not Misrepresent the Facts

Confusing Town finance with State budget issues is one matter, but misrepresenting the income tax provision in the budget recently enacted by the legislature is quite another, as Al Alper did in his Sept. 3 letter. Mr. Alper asserts that the budget will “increase income taxes on all Wiltonians” and implies that our unnamed State Representative Peggy Reeves voted for this. Nonsense. Certainly Mr. Alper is aware that not “all Wiltonians” are individuals making more than $500,000 or couples making $1 million or more a year.

Several omissions and some disturbing implications could be noted in the Sept. 3 commentary by Gail Lavielle on transportation and stimulus.

Ms. Lavielle, a Republican and appointed member of the state’s Public Transportation Commission, correctly states that Connecticut “has received about $3 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” funds under the federal stimulus. “Only a small portion, however” she adds “can be used to create transportation-related jobs. Of the total, $1.3 billion went to Medicaid programs, $450 million was made available for transportation projects” – seeming to imply that funds which could have gone to transportation instead went to help the state provide health care for poor people. That implication could be called many things, but ‘true’ isn’t one of them. The various components of stimulus funds provided to the states are allocated according to separate provisions in the bill. As Ms. Lavielle certainly should know, the allocations for infrastructure projects, including transportation, were made based on requests from the states through their Governors.

Omitted as well in her letter was the fact that the ARRA is also providing Connecticut with $87 million in additional unemployment benefits for jobless victims of the recession, and another $744.6 million in stimulus funds to help local public schools offset budget cuts, protect teaching jobs and improve educational quality.

While not actually arguing for additional infrastructure funding, Ms. Lavielle complains that there isn’t enough. Conveniently, she fails to mention that none of the funding would exist were it not for President Obama, his administration and the Democratic Congress. In fact, not a single Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the stimulus, and only three did so in the Senate, including one who’s now a Democrat.

There are many transportation projects being aided by the stimulus here in Connecticut, as Ms. Lavielle correctly notes. Public officials in both parties are to be commended for their work in helping to promote economic recovery. Perhaps we can look forward to more Republican support for much-needed further efforts to rebuild our neglected infrastructure, create jobs and sustain a real recovery.

Mitchell Hirsch
Hurlbutt Street