We entered the 2019 legislative session in January following eight years of unbroken, one-party Democrat rule in Hartford with Connecticut facing an estimated $3.7 billion deficit.
The Democrat response to eliminate this deficit was the same it was in 2011 and 2015 when Connecticut was confronted with other huge deficits following statewide elections won by Democrat gubernatorial candidates: even more spending fueled by massive tax increases — tax hikes on businesses, payroll taxes, at the cash register, your personal property. The current budget enacted by Democrats amounted to about $1.7 billion in new taxes.
Gov. Ned Lamont rejected pleas to hike taxes on the wealthy this time around, but the income tax has been raised four times since it was first adopted in 1991. That lever is never far from the majority party’s grasp when it comes to dealing with tough fiscal times.
Unable to defend their reckless fiscal behavior, the Democrats these days typically distort their record in Hartford and try to convince voters they have not been in charge. Their policies punish those who are successful and they show no regard for taxpayers. Recent accounts in statewide media highlight this pattern.
The so-called “grocery tax,’’ that Democrats adopted in their budget is one. When it was revealed that the Democrat budget would potentially tax much of what was sold in grocery stores, the public erupted and Democrats backpedaled. Fast. The Department of Revenue Services issued a directive nullifying the expansion of the tax after Republicans pointed out the ramifications of the Democrat budget. Democrats tried to claim they killed it.
The tax is still part of the state tax code and could be applied in the future. In any event, the taxes on a family’s weekly food bill went up by 15 percent Oct. 1 because of the increase in the state sales tax.
The only time Democrat leaders ever paid any attention to Republican budgets and our efforts to rein in spending was when their rank and file members would not go along with more tax hikes. Democrats could not produce a single budget in 2017 so they had to go along with our balanced budget that contained no new taxes.
The disregard for the business community, the people who actually employ others, was summed up by Gov. Lamont recently when he went before the AFL-CIO at its annual gathering and hailed the increase in the minimum wage, a promise labor exacted from Lamont during the 2018 campaign.
The governor’s offensive taunt to those who have to meet a payroll was this: “If you can’t compete, get off the playing field and stop blaming the people who do the work every day.”
Employers don’t blame their workers; they blame lawmakers and the governor for making their lives tougher by shrinking their bottom lines and imposing policies and regulations that threaten their livelihoods.
Nationally the unemployment rate has hit a 50-year low but in Connecticut we still have not reclaimed all the jobs lost in the great recession began in December 2007. Wyoming is the only other state under that mark. Wyoming.
Anyone who has to meet a payroll and formulate a budget needs a certain amount of predictability. Unless we see the end of one-party Democrat rule in Hartford the minimum wage is guaranteed to increase every year until 2023. The automatic payroll deduction that non-union workers will see subtracted from their paychecks every week to fund the family and medical leave program will kick in in the near future.
Take a look at the labor department’s list of companies that have shuttered their doors, laid off some workers or left Connecticut in recent years. There are myriad reasons why they wound up on the list but policies such as these don’t make it easier for businesses to grow and thrive.
State Rep. Themis Klarides, Derby, is the House Republican Leader.