With a few hearty Yo-Ho-Hos and no doubt a few bottles of rum to wash it down, the Connecticut Legislature has voted to do away with the Long Island Sound Fund along with another twenty or so other good ideas. Since its inception in 1994, the sale of special license plates has generated $5 million for a host of conservation and educational programs. So why would they do this?

Their answer is as disarmingly simple as that of the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks – because that’s where the money is. Faced with serious budget challenges, Connecticut’s lawmakers cast their jaundiced eyes on these funds and decided they could be better used elsewhere.

In an effort to mollify the concerns of conservationists, who fear that the loss of these dedicated revenues will mean the loss of many valuable programs, Gov. Jodi Rell offered this bit of SarahPalinesque logic in a prepared statement from her office: “The Sound is a unique and precious natural resource that is a part of what makes Connecticut such a special place to live. In the absence of the Long Island Sound Fund, we will seek out any and all opportunities to attract Federal and other dollars to fund important projects related to the Sound while making the best use possible of the dollars we have.”

So why not put the pinch on the landed gentry who have so jealously guarded their beaches from public access all these years?

And in a bit of what seems perilously close to fraud, the state will continue to sell these special license plates at their premium prices, even though after October 1, the money won’t be going to the purposes for which they were originally created.

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