Op-Ed: CT Democrats punt on rising crime, turn focus back to new taxes

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122).

State Rep. Ben McGorty (R-122).

Contributed photo /

For weeks, frightened residents and concerned Republican state lawmakers have applied pressure on the state's Democratic governor and Democratic legislative majority, demanding a fix to juvenile justice programs that continue to allow repeat offenders to walk free.

Our constituents are rightfully frustrated, and the evidence of this failure is crystal clear — a 17-year old charged in the hit-and-run death of a beloved marathon runner in New Britain had been arrested 13 times previously, including for other violent offenses like robbery and assault.

But while Connecticut Republicans have pushed ahead for juvenile sentencing and custody reform — gathering signatures to a petition calling state representatives and senators to return to work at the Capitol before the end of the summer — our Democratic colleagues haven't yet met us halfway.

While private meetings have been held between legislative leaders on the issue, no date is still set for a special session. The Governor, who can call a special session of his own, has not indicated if he will do so.

Instead, some Democrats in the legislature are eager to convene a special session of their own: to push forward on the Governor's failed "Transportation and Climate Initiative" (TCI) plan.

Thought to be dead after the plan was roundly criticized by Connecticut businesses and commuters as a back-door scheme to raise the state's 36 cent-per-gallon gas tax, some Democratic legislators and environmental groups are reportedly claiming TCI could be on the agenda for a special session held as early as September.

Presiding over a broken system that saw more than 6,000 motor vehicle thefts committed across our state in 2020 while arrests and prosecutions fell, the General Assembly's Democratic majority continued to waffle on the issue in 2021, failing to pursue substantial reforms and instead thoughtfully reminding residents at every opportunity about the importance of keeping your cars locked at night.

After all, there are more important issues at stake than public safety — like their never-ending campaign to tax Connecticut motorists.

I will continue to push for reasonable solutions to our state's juvenile crime problem and ensure the voices of victims are being heard in the process, and I encourage all my fellow colleagues in the House of Representatives to join me in putting our state's public safety first.

State Rep. Ben McGorty serves the 122nd District of Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull in the Connecticut House of Representatives, where he also serves as an Assistant Republican Leader.