September 26, 2014

A task force of experts in taxation, economics and finance established through legislation this year to study Connecticut’s overall state and local tax structure will hold its organizational meeting at 3 p.m. Monday in the Legislative Office Building.

The legislation was spearheaded by the bipartisan leadership of the General Assembly’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The legislation called for the panel members to be appointed jointly by the governor and the chairs and ranking members of the committee.

“It is no longer sufficient to make minor adjustments to our tax structure, which has not kept up with the fact that we are part of a global economy. The way of doing business has changed and the Internet has affected a lot of that, too,” said Rep. Pat Widlitz (D-Guilford, Branford), the House chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “We have assembled a group of people who work with the tax code in a diverse number of ways and we’re looking forward to working with them and providing them with all the necessary resources they need so we can modernize and improve our tax system.”

“My hope is that this bipartisan, joint effort between the legislative and executive branches of government will help us better understand how our tax structures affect businesses and individuals,” said state Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford), Senate chairman of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “How does it affect business decisions regarding siting and expansion, or an individuals’ decision to settle or retire here? That’s my focus, and I hope members of the panel focus on that, too.”

“I am very pleased to see the new tax panel initiative move forward,” said Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th Dist.), ranking member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “In Connecticut, we have over 370 different taxes on the books including many that may have negative consequences in terms of our economy, job growth and where people ultimately decide to live. Several of these taxes actually cost the state more to collect than what they generate in revenue, and many place unnecessary burdens on families and employers. This panel will assess our state’s taxes to determine which ones are working and which are doing more harm than good.”

“This is an effort that’s long overdue in this state, where employers, in particular, say they would benefit from a thorough review of our tax system,” said state Rep. Sean Williams (R-Watertown), ranking House Republican on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “This is one of many steps needed to turn around the economy in Connecticut – to make our state an easier place to do business and a more affordable place to live.”

The tax panel members are: Anika Singh Lemar, clinical associate professor at Yale University; Lou Schatz, partner of Shipman and Goodwin law firm; Tiana Gianopulos, senior counsel, Day Pitney; Don Marchand, partner, Ivy, Barnum & O’Mara; John Soto, president/owner Space-Craft Manufacturing; Yolanda Kodrzycki, director, New England Public Policy Center; Alan Clavette, certified public accountant, Clavette & Co.; Robert Testo, principal, R.J. Testo & Associates; John Elsesser, town manager, Coventry; Bill Dyson, a former Governor William A. O’Neill Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Practical Politics and a former state representative; Bill Nickerson, chief executive officer, Hoffman Management; Howard K. Hill, founder Howard K. Hill Funeral Services; Al Casella, partner, Murtha Cullina; Marian Galbraith, mayor, Groton; William R. Breetz, counsel, Connecticut Urban League Initiative.

The tax panel alternates are: Melinda Agsten, partner, Wiggin & Dana; David Nee, board member, CT Voices.

Ex-officio members are: Rep. Widlitz; Sen. Fonfara; Sen. Frantz; Rep. Williams; Rep. Brendan Sharkey, House speaker; Sen. Don Williams, Senate president pro tempore; Ben Barnes, secretary of Office of Policy and Management; and Kevin Sullivan, commissioner of the state Department of Revenue Services.