OPINION: Old Habits Die Hard

Posted on May 7, 2019 by admin


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This week the legislature’s Appropriations Committee and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee held their final meetings. Unfortunately, the end result was a proposal filled with more taxes and more spending. As a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, I voted against a Democrat-backed tax package that would increase taxes by $2 billion over the next two years. However, this budget proposal made it out of the committee process by a party-line vote.

I believe the tax package and budget proposals will continue to drain Connecticut’s economy and punish taxpayers. For the past decade, the Democrats’ only solution to fixing our state’s fiscal climate has been to increase spending and taxes, which we know has not worked, and in fact, Connecticut has lost over $2.6 billion in taxable income from our wealthy fleeing the state.  Every time we add more taxes we continue to pull money out of the private sector, which explains why Connecticut is one of the only state in the country that actually has a negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Just in the month of March, we have lost 3,000 jobs.

Earlier this session, Governor Ned Lamont proposed a budget that paved the way for the legislative Democratic budget. Although each budget differs on a few proposals, the bottom line remains that both proposals include more tax-and-spend policies. This new budget proposal calls for a 2 percent tax on capital gains, expands the sales tax to parking, safety apparel, dry cleaning, laundry services and interior design services; it eliminates a 5 year $500 tax credit for STEM graduates designed to help students pay off college debt, adds a new 6.35 percent tax on ridesharing services and increases a tax on movie tickets from 6 percent to 6.35 percent.

Some of my Democratic colleagues argue that they are trying to correct the last 40 years of mismanagement.  Sadly, I remember when they decried 30 years of mismanagement.  Since 2009, Connecticut’s fiscal crisis became apparent to everyone yet these same legislators have continued the practice of borrowing for operating expenses, draining the Rainy Day Fund, raising taxes and spending, approving long-term, unsustainable state employee contracts – and the list goes on.   Good policy results from both sides of the aisle working together. Just in the last budget cycle Republicans and Democrats came together to pass a bipartisan budget that actually managed to lower taxes, reduced spending and eliminated the tax on social security and pensions. For the first time in 10 years the state had an operating surplus and over $2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, which was previous depleted just 10 short years ago.

I would have hoped that the fruits of our labor during the last budget cycle were enough for Democrats to learn a lesson from this type of budgeting, but their recent budget and tax proposal lets me know that they have not – they are instead continuing with old habits. Elections have consequences. This year, Democrats again have a majority in the House and Senate and do not have to work with Republicans to develop a budget. However, I hope they remember the good work we achieved on a bipartisan basis and will be open to our ideas.  Connecticut cannot afford theirs.