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`CLASSIConnecticut' - the nutmeg state

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YOU might as well cancel those plans to vacation in the Catskills or on Cape Cod this summer. When you hear Connecticut's new slogan, you'll be drawn to my home state like so many asteroids into a black hole. Don't read on unless you enjoy being hopelessly ensnared by slick advertising copy. I have warned you: ``CLASSIConnecticut, the pride of New England.'' It is times like this when I feel embarrassed to hail from the Nutmeg State. This silly motto is symbolic of the pressure Connecticut feels, sandwiched between those two larger, better-known, and more alluring entities: New York and Massachusetts. We feel inferior to our neighbors and therefore try much too hard to measure up.

Still, we have much to feel inferior about. We are small (the third tiniest state) and provincial to a fault. In a day when American politics has shed its smoke-filled-room image, our governor is a saloonkeeper. He is a nice enough man except for the fact that he can't let a single sentence escape his lips without at least twice working in the full, formal name of his fiefdom. Here's a likely quote: ``We here in the state of Connecticut are proud of our new slogan which will bring many new friends to the state of Connecticut, thereby boosting the revenues of the state of Connecticut.'' In his last reelection campaign, it was as if the two candidates were vying for the post of third selectman of a remote Vermont village.

One of our proudest boasts is that there is no income tax here. The flip side to this alleged achievement is that the 7.5 percent sales levy is among the most regressive in the nation. Our coffers are either empty or overstuffed, depending on economic forces beyond our borders. In addition, our southwestern counties have been overrun by New Yorkers seeking tax shelters.

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