Posted on February 3, 2021
To the Editor,
I began my term in Hartford a little over three weeks ago. In the early days of the 2021 session, there was a united feeling among all my legislative colleagues that we would be working on one goal – to safely re-open our state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. That sentiment, unfortunately, has quickly evaporated.
Before the pandemic hit, residents were still figuring out ways to pay for the $2.1 billion in new taxes and fees the current state budget is balanced on. On top of the new taxes and fees electricity rate increases have driven monthly bills sky high, effectively punishing people for using more energy while staying home and staying safe during the pandemic. Instead of looking to ease financial burden for state residents and businesses, Democrats in Hartford have only come up with additional ideas for the state to gain revenue.
The sharp increase of energy prices, specifically over recent weeks, has resulted in higher gas prices. In response, Democrats are looking at ways to make that chore more expensive too. We already pay an exorbitant amount of money for our gas, but my colleagues across the aisle believe the only way to make sure the Special Transportation Fund remains solvent is to implement a higher gas tax. If that’s not enough, the ideas of implementing a mileage tax, a mechanism which would monitor and tax the mileage you drive, and state-wide tolling are back on the table.
Another detrimental proposal would institute a state-wide mill rate on all Connecticut homes valued at $430,000. What’s even more crass is the Democratic leadership attempt to label this as only taxing the rich and referred to the idea as a ‘mansion tax.’ There are homes in all 169 municipalities that would be impacted by this new tax, not just a select few.
Most Connecticut residents are focused on getting through the current pandemic. It appears that many of my counterparts are focused on increasing the size of the state’s coffers. If we are going to recover from this, we should be focusing on policies that allow businesses to re-open. Asking people to give more at a time when the state just lost 3,400 jobs in December alone is counterintuitive to jumpstarting our economy.
Recently it was announced that the governor had requested to extend his emergency order powers. The legislature has been conducting business for weeks and it is dismaying that Democratic leaders rubber stamped this request without a meeting or vote. I wrote a letter urging that the legislature reject this request and re-establish the balance of government, but that request has fallen on deaf ears.
Now certainly is not the time to abandon our responsibilities as elected officials, and it’s definitely not the time to saddle people with more financial burden. It’s like Ground Hog Day, all over again for the state’s middle-class.
I will fight these proposed punitive and regressive taxes – their passage would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the state’s economic future. In the coming months I will focus on policies that help businesses re-open and advocate for the actual needs of our community’s residents. As the legislative process advances, please continue to check my website for updates at www.RepCallahan.com.