Fee Increases Hit Working Families the Hardest

October 28, 2009

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary a tax is defined as “a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.” When the General Assembly passed a new two-year budget in September, supporters of the $37.6 billion plan claimed that taxes were raised primarily on those who could afford them the most, i.e. the wealthy and large corporations. However a closer look indicates that everyone will be impacted by the legislature’s decision to increase spending by $560 million at a time when Connecticut was facing its largest budget deficit in state history.

On October 2nd the legislature reconvened to take up a number of bills that implement the budget for the next two fiscal years. While the budget basically says how much funding is going to be allocated during this time, the implementer bills provide the specifics. Included in those bills are provisions for education, human services, public health and general government. Budget implementers also specifically detail revenue transfers and taxes and where they originate from.

Last month, I explained why I could not support this budget. One of the reasons was that the budget seeks to collect more than $100 million by raising fees across the board. Supporters of the budget have claimed that “various” professional and recreational license fees are being increased, however HB 6802 (the revenue implementer bill) tells an entirely different story. In fact, in one way or another just about everyone in Connecticut will be affected. According to HB 6802 nearly every professional license fee is being increased, in some cases even doubled.

I have received some inquiries from people asking if they will be required to pay more for their professional license. Some of the professions affected by the fee increases; teachers, accountants, farmers, retailers, realtors, bankers, architects, engineers & surveyors, electricians & plumbers, pharmacists, landscapers, interior designers, home improvement contractors, insurers, apprentices, bedding dealers & manufacturers, group home providers, barbers & hairdressers, pest control specialists and funeral home operators. Don’t see your profession? Well the bill also incorporates dozens of fee increases for other “miscellaneous” professions and doubles the fees for most corporate filings. If we are serious about attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in Connecticut it is my view that we should not be placing any greater financial burden on them, regardless of their profession.

Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Recreational fees for hunting and fishing are all being doubled. If you need a marriage or death certificate from your local town hall, those fees are going up as well. Want to visit a state park? You’ll being paying twice as much as last year, which goes against the efforts the state has have made over the past couple of years to make Connecticut a more attractive place to visit, enjoy and most importantly, live in.

No matter how you look at it, these fee increases are simply another tax with a different name. They have the same effect on individuals and businesses as any tax increase. The worst part is that they hit working families the hardest.

If you have any specific questions about the state budget or fees and how it may affect you, please feel to contact my office at 1-800-842-1421.