‘Another sad day for Connecticut’ as $2 billion tax hike set to pass

By Yaël Ossowski  / June 1, 2015  / Watchdog.org

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He once promised to balance Connecticut’s books through spending cuts
alone. Now Gov. Dannel Malloy says he’s ready to OK a nearly $2 billion
tax increase no later than June 3, when the legislative session ends.

A new budget, passed by the Democratic supermajority on Monday, will
raise the state’s top tax bracket to 6.99 percent, from 6.7 percent,
impose new taxes on businesses, and kill plans to cut the state’s sales
tax.

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today,” said Malloy in a statement a day before the final vote.
“Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term,
making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a
family.”

The new budget also kills a plan to reduce the state’s sales tax in
October, from 6.35 to 5.85 percent. Along with the new tax
hikes, Connecticut residents are expected to fork over $1.8 billion more
in taxes in the next year.

Lawmakers hope it will help close what the administration says is a two-year $2.5 billion deficit.

Speaking in committee on Monday morning, state Sen. Scott Frantz said
the tax hike represented “another sad day for Connecticut.”

This week’s tax hike was the latest development in Malloy’s ongoing
campaign to broaden the state’s tax base, just a few months into his
second term as governor.

In February, he struck a nerve among economic-development leaders,
saying he’d eliminate several tax credit programs aimed at bringing in
entertainment business, chiefly the sports network ESPN. That tax credit is reportedly no longer a part of the state budget.

He’s upset many hospitals and universities by pushing them to pay local property taxes for the first time. That earned him the ire of both the Connecticut Hospital Association and Quinnipiac University, which have been tax-exempt.

The new budget bill approved by Malloy and pushed by the Democratic supermajority even taxes digital downloads
for the first time in state history, a rarity among states. A state
lawmaker said the new tax is designed to make brick-and-mortar stores
more competitive.

Ranked by per capita income, Connecticut is the richest in the
country, each average resident’s salary 137 percent higher than any
other American’s, according to Moody’s, a ratings agency.

But it also has the distinction of the third-highest tax burden in the nation, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, imposing an average 12 percent tax at the state and local level combined.

Despite these high levels of revenue, the state still continues to
find itself in budgetary crisis mode, according to its most senior
officials.

After analyzing the numbers when Malloy became governor, Ben Barnes,
secretary of the governor’s Office of Policy and Management, shocked
reporters when he admitted the state was in a “permanent fiscal crisis.”

With a significant presence in the state, the conglomerate General
Electric made a point to comment on the plan to raise taxes on families
and individuals.

Fairfield-based GE, one of the five largest companies in the world,
warned the tax hike, retroactive to Jan. 1, would make businesses and
citizens “seriously consider whether it makes any sense to continue to
be located in this state.”

“The Connecticut economy continues to struggle as other states offer
more opportunities and a better environment for business growth,” wrote
the company in a general news release.
“It is essential that Governor Malloy and legislative leaders find a
more prudent and responsible path forward for Connecticut and its
citizens in their current budget negotiations.”

This reliance on tax increases to balance the budget in the
Constitution State is a relatively recent development. The state did not
impose an income tax until 1991, and was once considered a premier
state for investors and entrepreneurs.

Yaël Ossowski is an international consumer activist and writer. His writings and interviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets across the world in multiple languages. He is founder and editor of Devolution Review, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) from the CEVRO Institute in Prague and a Bachelor's in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal. He currently splits his time between Vienna, Austria and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Website https://yael.ca
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