Shaking Things Up!

May 12, 2015

With only three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, taxes are what everyone is talking about at the Capitol. The minority party members of the General Assembly’s Finance committee, on which I sit, held an Informational Public Hearing on the majority party’s $900 million in new proposed retroactive taxes to pay for $2.4 billion more in spending. Since a typically required public hearing was not held on the details of the Democratic tax package, Republicans felt people deserved a voice.

Toni Boucher

The hearing room at the Capitol complex was packed. Two overflow rooms were opened up just to accommodate the number of citizens interested in speaking against these new proposed retroactive taxes. More than 110 people signed up to testify; 800 pieces of written testimony were submitted by those who could not take the day off from work; and more than 7,000 people signed a petition denouncing taxes that will affect taxpayers, businesses, data, CPA, architectural , veterinary services and many others.

And the specter of even higher commuter taxes in the form of highways tolls loom large unless people rise up and also “Say No to Tolls.” (One resident is even forming a rally on the capitol lawn May 20th to do just that.)

Not a day goes by when another headline describes how bad the legislature’s tax policies are for the state. Samples from just last week include:

  • Hartford Courant, “Democrats Tax package would hit nearly 20,000 businesses”
  • Hartford, “Dollar doldrums hit CT export sales” “weaker foreign currencies dragged down their collective sales by more than $500 Million, slowing economy even more.” FOXCT,” Connecticut ranked among the worst”
  • CT News Junkie, “Legislative Democrats $2.4 Billion Tax Hike Is A Job Killer”
  • Connecticut has consistently ranked among the worst in many areas, including business friendliness, debt, retirement, job growth, recovery from the recession, and foreclosures.

To cap things off, According to the Tax Foundation, Connecticut’s May 9th Tax Freedom Day is the latest in the country. (This is the date when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.)

These crushing taxes are the main reason people stated over and over that they are being driven out of the state. One young resident Susan Maturo of North Haven testified, “The taxes are becoming so burdensome that everyone in our age group is talking non-stop about not when but how do we leave this state.” Lawmakers heard from small business owners like dry cleaners, accountants, interior designers, insurance agents, moving van owners, veterinarians and farmers who will be hurt by these proposed taxes in one way or another. Those weighing in sent a clear message to legislators – No New CT Taxes!

Activism does matter. Public input cannot be ignored. This week’s public information hearing on the Democrats’ proposed retroactive tax hikes shook up the State Capitol. People made lawmakers on both sides of the aisle think seriously about what new taxes would do to the state. As we head down the final stretch of the 2015 legislative session it is my hope that people will continue the fight to live in a state that is affordable and answerable to the public.