Capitol Connection: Shaking up the Capitol – the People Speak!

May 15, 2015

This week the public made it clear that Connecticut families have no appetite for tax hikes.

A public informational hearing on the state Finance Committee’s tax package drew over 100 people to testify at the Capitol and over 800 people to submit written testimony expressing their opinions on the proposal.

The Democrats’ proposal would raise taxes by almost $2.4 billion by increasing business taxes, increasing personal income taxes, and imposing the sales tax on services currently untaxed – such as veterinary care, construction, dry cleaning and data processing.


So how exactly would these new taxes impact CT families?

According to those who testified, the impact would be broad. Some of the most poignant concerns about why this tax plan is particularly dangerous came directly from local business owners and taxpayers who shook up the Capitol with their testimony.

Chris Nelson, President of Nelson Construction in Simsbury, testified about the declining home building market as a result of more people moving out of state and less moving in. He explained that a new tax on construction would further burden struggling home builders and send the wrong message.

“The large tax increase approved by [the state Finance Committee] tells me and every other business leader, nothing has changed in our CT government leadership,” said Nelson. “We will continue to spiral down. It tells me to forget about meaningful recovery and job growth. It also tells me to ‘Stop taking risk and be prepared to scale back even further OR shut down all together.’”

Another new tax that came under fire at the hearing was the proposed sales tax on veterinary services. Dr. Arnold Goldman of Canton Animal Hospital testified on behalf of the CT Veterinary Medical Association stating that passing the budget burden onto animals and their owners is not the solution.

“Research shows that by increasing the cost of care, people seek less of it,” said Goldman. By increasing the cost of animal care with a sales tax, Goldman explained that animal and human health could be put at risk because less people would seek proper immunizations for their pets. This tax would also burden farmers who have large expenses related to care for agricultural animals. He urged legislators to fight the tax on veterinarians, which 47 states do not impose, “Let’s remain among the most humane of states,” he said.

Michaela Fissel, a resident of Windsor, shared her personal story and thoughts on the safety net system perpetuated by growing burdens on taxpayers. She described the struggle of falling into a situation in which you have to rely on state assistance. “It seems like a hole,” Michaela explained. “It seems like a hole that there isn’t a ladder to climb out of.” She also emphasized the importance of assessing the effectiveness of current programming before hiking taxes. “I’m not in support of continuing to see tax increases, but I am in support of accountability and results based accountability for sure,” she said.

Wendy Traub of Torrington, owner of Hemlock Directional Boring, Inc., also drew an important connection between burdens on employers and those seeking jobs.

“What happens here in the legislature can potentially have a devastating effect on families that rely on jobs created by small businesses,” said Traub.

All legislators need to keep these words of wisdom top of mind. Every law passed by the legislature sends a direct message to families and employers about what kind of state Connecticut wants to be. Now is the time to make the decision: do we want to be a state that continues down the path we are on, or do we want to change course?

I say let’s listen to the people and pave a new path – a path with fewer burdens and more opportunities.

To review all submitted testimony visit To make your voice heard, consider signing the “No New CT Taxes” petition at

Sen. Witkos, Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore, represents the 8th District towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. For more information visit or