Everyone loves to hate taxes. Too high. Too low. Too complicated. The reason for this is simple: our tendency to focus only on what we pay, not how we benefit. What if you considered the cost of your home without considering all the benefits a home brings? Shelter, security, comfort, memories, and more. You might end up hating your home, too. But we love our homes, accepting the costs of homeownership knowing that the benefits far outweigh them.

Connecticut is also our home. Our parents and grandparents — and their parents and grandparents — worked hard to build, secure, and maintain this home. Earlier generations laid the foundation; successive generations framed the structure, finished the rooms, and performed essential maintenance. Each generation builds upon the work of the former, ensuring our state home stands the test of time. Taxes make this all possible. Think for a moment about how taxes maintain and improve our home for today, and for generations to come:

  • Education. Connecticut’s public schools educate 550,000 students, while public colleges and universities enroll 120,000 more. State supports for preschool help educate more than 40,000 young children. Federally funded financial aid supports the higher education of 70,000 students at private colleges and universities. Altogether, more than one in five Connecticut residents currently attends a school supported by public funds.
  • Transportation. Connecticut residents travel an average of 8,700 highway miles per year. Taxes maintain 21,000 miles of road in our state, including over 3,700 miles of state highway and 440 miles of interstate. Taxes also support Connecticut’s rail system, including the New Haven-to-New York rail line, the busiest line in the United States.
  • Healthcare. The two main public health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, cover 1.1 million Connecticut residents — nearly a third of our total state population. Additional public funding supports much of the health coverage for the remaining residents through the deduction for employer-provided health insurance.
  • Security. State and local taxes pay the salaries of 8,000 police officers and 4,100 firefighters in Connecticut. Federal taxes, meanwhile, support thousands of sailors at the sub base in Groton and cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, as well as Connecticut National Guardsmen who help our communities recover from natural disasters like Super Storm Sandy.
  • All of this barely scratches the surface; taxes support countless other services and programs. Few people in Connecticut would choose to shutter our public schools and colleges, close our highways and railroads, or disband our police and fire departments. These services are utterly necessary to modern life.

    Any discussion of the taxes we pay must consider the benefits we receive: we drive our children to public school on public roads secured by state and local police in automobiles rendered safe by federal regulation. Along the way we drink coffee ensured safe by public health agencies and burn gas ensured pure by public inspectors. This is all before 9 a.m. in the morning. Each of these services is not free. Today we must remember that civilization is not free, although the cost of losing it is incalculable.

    Wade Gibson is the director of the Fiscal Policy Center at Connecticut Voices for Children