In reading a story recently in The Hour titled “Battle Shaping Up Over Fare Hikes” written by Bill Cummings, I found myself just shaking my head at statements from Senator Bob Duff. (Sen. Duff represents most of Darien and all of Norwalk.) Some facts need to be laid out, and misleading/incorrect statements need to be corrected for the record.
*Legislators in Hartford provide funding for CT Department of Transportation. If DOT has to cut service and raise rates, it’s because DOT was driven to do so by the Legislature who passed their budget…and committed DOT funds to other areas.
*DOT funding has been a long-term challenge. Fare increases of 5% in ’13, ’14, ’15 and 1% in ’16, with another proposed 5% now, will total 21% in 4 years, way beyond inflation. The Legislature approved these hikes while CT’s overall budget has entered into a perpetual deficit crisis. Poor budget choices in Hartford have led to transportation hikes for many who can’t afford them.
*Since 2011, the Democrats have held one-party control in Hartford (Gov. Malloy and the Legislature). They’ve made unwise budget choices, yet take little responsibility and try to deflect from the disastrous results with spin that the Republicans have not submitted any budget alternatives.
* Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff has said he is against the fare hike, but has, in fact, been responsible for budget decisions put forward by the Democrats that created this transportation crisis in the first place. In The Hour article, Sen. Duff states he is against the fare increase of 5% on Metro North slated for Dec. 1st. Yet, Sen. Duff, as Senate Majority Leader, had a seat at the table negotiating the budget last year and this year.
The responsibility to set the final budget rests with Gov. Malloy, Senate President Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz. As Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Duff had significant leverage during the budget process. But, he and these leaders cut funding to the DOT by $37 million to balance yet another budget deficit. DOT needed another funding source to fill that rescission, hence the fare hike. It is purely a fare increase to cover the cut in funding by the Democratic majority.
Most misleading is Sen. Duff’s statement that “Republicans didn’t even put a budget compromise on the table. It’s easy to point fingers when they don’t have a plan.” This is simply not true. In fact, the legislative Republicans have put forward five budgets in the last four years. Most recently a five-year budget plan, www.fiveyearbudget.com. These budgets met with approval from newspaper editorial boards across the state and were vetted by the Office of Fiscal Analysis as being valid with viable solutions to our ongoing budget challenges.
As your representative and knowing the truth, I cannot stand by and have Sen. Duff continue to mislead his constituents. Our primary responsibility as legislators is to develop and vote on a sustainable budget and to communicate with honesty and clarity to our constituents. A leader takes responsibility and finds real solutions.