I have two takeaways from the recently released 2016 Connecticut jobs report.

First, the U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t know what they are doing. Their monthly employment data is embarrassingly inaccurate. According to the CTNewsJunkie, the DOL overestimated job growth in Connecticut by an average of 5,425 jobs per month.

Meanwhile, the state lost jobs in 2016. Most people don’t know that unemployment data, broadly reported by newspapers and other media, is marginally useful.

Politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) use unemployment figures to their advantage because it can hide real problems.

The truth is less and less people are working in Connecticut; people and jobs are leaving the state; tax revenues are down; and spending is out of control partly because our state leaders refuse to restructure the unaffordable retirement packages that they mistakenly promised state employees.

Our border states have above average growth while we flounder. Our governor knows that a third straight income or business tax increase at the state level will not be popular, to say the least. He is proposing “not raising taxes” by taking huge sums of money from most towns and forcing them to pay a large part of teachers’ pensions that the state can’t afford.

Those town leaders will be forced to raise property taxes. That will likely result in more people leaving the state, drops in employment and lower tax revenue. I encourage you to talk to your local and state leaders about these issues.

— Bart Piccirillo Bethany

If you are undecided which side you are on regarding the marijuana debate consider the actors:

On the AGAINST legalization side is John Salvatore, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association who was surrounded at the State Capitol by dozens of Connecticut police officials from all over the state.

Salvatore has consulted with officials in Colorado and learned that legalization has increased crime, diminished the quality of life, increased homelessness, and, perhaps most importantly, affected young people negatively by increasing dropout rates in high school.

Junior at Guilford High school Gabby Palumbo, a member of Developmental Assets for Youth, said “Legalization would send a wrong and hypocritical message.”

The message it would send is “that smoking marijuana is OK” and that public revenue outweighs public health.” Good for her.

Professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, Deepak Cyril D’Souza stated “There is accumulating evidence that young brains are more vulnerable to the effects of cannabis.”

Others have warned of lethargy and schizophrenia due to legalization.

Our group, Common Sense, knows that legalization would send “mixed messages” to today’s youth. At a time when heroin and opioid abuse are epidemic in our state, why would we gamble with our youth?

On the other side are state lawmakers like Josh Elliott who, at forums in Hamden in January (League of Women Voters) and at a press conference in Hartford, brags repeatedly about breaking Connecticut law by getting “high.”

Other lawmakers decry the fact that the state is in financial trouble and that legalization of marijuana is one way to solve the problems these over-spenders have created.

Who do you trust? It is time for parents and grandparents and anyone concerned about public health to SPEAK OUT.

— Tim Chaucer Milford

Founding member of Common Sense, which is composed of grandparents and parents who are against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

Just read the letter from Marty Northam. He is so right. I was shopping at Ferraro’s a while ago and a woman paid with EBT CARD, took her few hundred dollars in food and put them in a Jeep that sells for over $60,000.

I’ve worked since I was 15 years old and I can’t afford a sixty thousand dollar car. Is somebody getting a kickback from these people?

— Elias Larkin Milford

If you have a medical emergency and arrive at Milford Hospital, you’re going to be taken care of, even if you don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay. It doesn’t matter how expensive your care turns out to be. Our hospital is a nonprofit organization. It’s also Milford’s largest employer and contributes over $130 million in economic benefit to our local community.

Milford Hospital is one of only a handful of local community hospitals left in Connecticut. These hospitals are under increasing economic pressure. Insurance companies demand cuts in services provided to patients and continually press for discounts on charges.

Reimbursements from government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid are often below cost.

Unfortunately the governor’s proposed budget would make Milford Hospital’s position even more difficult. Not only is he proposing cutting back on financial support but he also wants Milford Hospital to begin paying property tax. These proposals would cost it millions of dollars a year.

Milford is one of the pillars of our community. We need to let our legislators know that they need to step forward to oppose the governor’s proposals.

— Tom Jagodzinski Milford