Posted on May 2, 2019 by admin
Democrats have unveiled two budget plans for 2019 – Governor Lamont’s budget and the Appropriations/Finance Committee (Democrats’) budget – that seek to substantially increase your taxes to pay for increased state spending.
Despite saying otherwise, both proposals increase spending and taxation. The Democrats’ budget actually spends about $112 million more than Governor Lamont’s plan over two years, even though his proposal is approximately $1.9 billion higher than the bipartisan budget adopted last session. The 2018-2019 bipartisan budget totaled $41.25 billion, Governor Lamont’s proposal spends $43.16 billion and the Democrats’ plan spends approximately $43.27 billion per biennium.
Both of these proposals will increase taxes by more than a billion dollars a year, and will include an additional $800 million if tolls are implemented and $400 million if the payroll tax is implemented as part of paid FMLA legislation also being proposed. That’s an additional $2.2 billion coming from all of us.
Under these budgets, sales taxes and fees will go up on scores of items and services. Governor Lamont proposes to eliminate the social security income exemption and the exemptions on pension and annuity income. He’ll also eliminate tax exemptions on non-prescription medications, college text books, newspapers and magazines, credit unions, child car seats, and renovations and repair of residential property, and will eliminate the annual “sales tax free week” so many of our families depend on for back-to-school shopping.
Democrats propose, among other things, removing the scheduled expansion of the property tax credit and adding a new tax on rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. They also propose charging an additional 1% sales tax on meals that will hit you directly in the wallet each time you eat out at a restaurant, order catering or purchase prepared foods.
Both the governor and Democrat legislators propose greatly expanding the sales tax to parking and dry cleaning and laundry services, including coin operated laundry services, and repealing the tax exemption on safety apparel. They also propose a tax surcharge of 10 cents for plastic bags and permanently capping the teachers’ pension exemption at 25%.
Governor Lamont also proposes shifting teacher pension costs to municipalities which would cost Waterbury taxpayers more than an additional $425,000 annually once fully implemented. Democrats neglected to include this specific plan into their budget but have said they are willing to implement it and it is an option they’re considering.
Considering all the attention being paid to repairing our aging and deteriorating roads and bridges, and the clamor for tolls to pay for billions in much-needed infrastructure repair, it’s interesting to note that the Democrats’ budget would divert more than a half-billion dollars in revenue that was dedicated specifically for the Special Transportation Fund in last year’s bipartisan budget. The Special Transportation Fund – created solely to be used for repair and replacement of our roadways and bridges – has been consistently raided in previous years with the money being placed into the general fund to cover repeated deficits. After diversion of these funds this year, revenue going into the fund in subsequent years would be slashed and capped at 18%!
In a nutshell, these budgets are just borrowing as usual, while also taking an additional billion dollars in tolls and nearly one half-billion in a new payroll tax to pay for FMLA.
With five weeks left in the legislative session there are sure to be substantial changes to any budget proposal, and while I’m concerned about these plans, I don’t believe every bad piece will be included. However, it would be foolish to think that any single item or idea is off the table. In fact, Finance Committee Chair Rojas said yesterday that these plans were a starting point and that all options are on the table.
My Republican colleagues and I have consistently advocated for responsible cuts to state spending and subsequent investments in areas where efficiencies can be created to save taxpayer money. Seemingly small changes like eliminating taxpayer-funded political campaigns that cost taxpayers about $11 million annually and consolidating agency functions like human resources and payroll can free up millions of dollars that could be better utilized. We also propose freezing the legislative management budget because it’s important to lead by example.
Instead of focusing on reducing spending and increasing our state’s ability to attract and retain quality employers, Democrats have once again shown they are tone deaf to the pressures facing low and middle class residents and trying to squeeze every last cent they can out of your wallet.
I will continue to stand up for the people of Waterbury.