New Haven, CT
September 23, 2000
There is an old axiom that the only certainties of life are death and taxes. Here in New England and Connecticut the Green Party would like to announce that there is another axiom, as true as the first two. We will have a fall and winter and it will be cold. We will have snow, ice and freezing temperatures, if not this month certainly November and December.
It is also certain that Connecticut and its citizens are in the midst of an escalating crisis, which is being brought on by ever-escalating fuel prices. We particularly refer to fuel oil prices but the same is probably true for natural gas prices. Oil prices are at a ten-year high and the supply level is at the lowest it has been for the past 20 years. Fuel oil in northwest Connecticut is selling for more than $129.9 PER GALLON which represents more than a 50% increase over the same time last year. Anyone reading the paper, watching TV or paying to fill up the oil tank must understand that fuel prices will reach close to, if not exceed, $2.00 PER GLLON this winter. Has anyone seen gas prices going down even though the governor cut the gas tax by 7 cents? Are we now seeing stories indicating that our deregulated electric rates will be rising?
For these reasons The Connecticut Green Party is requesting the governor to call an emergency session of the legislature. Rather than wait until mid-December to declare "There is a problem" we think that governor should anticipate what is a certainty and be ready to handle this problem on an emergency basis. Secondly, we call on the governor and the legislature to develop a state energy policy that puts energy conservation "back on the table." While we don't necessarily expect a policy to be developed in the emergency session, work should begin on it.
We do not want to go into the reasons for the problem and do not, at this point, wish to cast blame at either the Democrats or the Republicans. The Green Party does want to alert the governor and the citizenry to the fact that many people will be forced to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table. The time for action to avert these situations is now.
We do not think that this problem is limited to lower-income persons although the impact there will be significant. It will affect those working couples who are earning a good sum but seem to be spending most of it on their kids, food, gas, real estate taxes and day-to-day living. Many citizens of Connecticut will be affected by this economic problem and so the legislature must set forth an operational plan, now, to be able to help citizens when the time arrives.
The governor should call an emergency session for October 2. If he complains that a 'true' emergency is necessary the Green Party would remind him that he had no trouble fabricating an "emergency" to get the legislature together in order to fund his ill-founded plan to build a stadium for the Patriots in Hartford. That was a contrived emergency; this one is real and will affect people's lives. If he does this now then a plan can be in effect to give people money to assist with this problem when they need it. We can not depend on the response of the Federal government alone, the state should take its own action. Since the heating season usually ends by April 1, the emergency would be over and the program can be ended on April 1, 2001. No one can claim that the program will go on indefinitely.
We understand that there will be many opinions as to how such a plan should work. The Green Party starts from the premise that the state budget surplus should be used to help people first. We think that shopping centers and new computers in schools should take second place, if necessary, to the safety of people. Funds in the surplus are for the citizens of the state not road builders or contractors.
Our plan would call for a direct rebate to the customer of 40-50 cents- or whatever cents per gallon that the legislature develops in its plan. The oil purchaser, landlord or tenant would present their receipt to a state agency and a check in the amount designated would be cut and sent to that citizen within 10 days. We cash lottery tickets at various places, we have motor vehicle offices around the state, surely there is one existing mechanism, to handle these requests. A simple copy of the receipt and the funds are sent directly where needed. This is simple and can easily be shut-down when the heating season ends.
We would also think that the state has to make plans for a longer term solution to this problem of energy waste. There must be a conservation program in place, mandated by the state. There must be a need to educate people to the waste of energy that is daily occurring. We call upon the state to make funds available for grants to persons to insulate their homes, to put up storm windows, to assist with alternative heating and electrical generation systems. We call upon the governor to insist that the Connecticut State Police enforce the speeding laws in this state. The speed limit in this state was raised to 65 MPH, not 75 MPH. We think there are many other areas to consider but we would want this special session to come up with a short-term plan to solve this coming emergency situation. We understand that there are those whose incomes are large enough so that they will not be affected by an oil price increase. Perhaps they will not feel the need to participate in an energy rebate program
There might be other plans to solve this crisis. We do not claim to have the only solution to this problem. The Green Party is trying to help the average citizen of this state. We think that the other two parties must be responsive to the needs of its citizens. We ask them to join us in calling for this Special Session if they truly care about Connecticut and its people.