Posted on February 20, 2019 by Greg MacKinnon
HARTFORD – State Representative Leslee Hill (R-Canton) listened as Governor Lamont gave his first budget address to the General Assembly. His comments focused on the need for the state to embrace technology and to address the long-term financial issues by raising tax revenues.
“My optimism quickly turned to confusion as the governor presented his budget priorities today at the Capitol. He spoke of the need to modernize the state, making it more attractive for young people to be educated here and to eventually grow roots and live here. I agree with him, we need to make more business-friendly decisions so that people are confident to move here and grow businesses in our state. However, we can’t do this by increasing the cost of living,” explained Rep. Hill.
According to Rep. Hill, the governor expanded the sales tax to include every day services. The governor identified that new taxes would be assessed on haircuts, legal services, accounting, interior design, real estate, computer and data processing.
Rep. Hill went on to say, “On one hand, our governor is committed to making our state better and more attractive. On the other, he is heavily leaning on new tax revenue to accomplish his goals. This will make the cost of living in our state skyrocket, yet again, and people are going to move out and close their businesses.”
In his address, the governor explained that the teacher pension fund, an account that historically has been funded and distributed by the state, will be shifted to individual cities in towns.
“Municipalities will now be responsible for paying into the teacher pension fund. While this will save the state money on paper, it will add stress to thin local budgets. If this proposal were to pass along with the budget, then local taxes are likely to go up,” said Rep. Hill.
The governor also explained that he has multiple tolling proposals. It is unclear whether it is legal to just tax heavy trucks, so the governor expanded his proposal to create a new tax on all motor vehicles using the state’s roads by tolling.
Rep Hill concluded, “We were lead to believe that tolling is the only way to fix our bridges and roads. That’s not true. There are sustainable ways in which we can make our infrastructure better, without imposing financial burdens to our residents. It’s projected that sixty to seventy percent of toll revenues will come directly from the people who live in Connecticut.
“While I am discouraged about today’s budget presentation, I find hope in the fact that the governor has imposed a ‘debt diet’ to all budgetary policies. Theoretically, this should help keep spending in check and take pet projects off the table. I look forward to working with our governor going forward in the budgeting process.”
The legislature will now produce its own form of the budget, which should be completed by early April.