Fasano: The Only Way to Protect Taxpayers from the Grocery Tax is by Changing the Law

September 17, 2019

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to comments made by Governor Ned Lamont today stating that he believes the Democrat-approved grocery tax can be changed through a conversation between the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) and that a special session is not needed.

“The only way to fix the Democrats’ grocery tax blunder is through a special legislative session. Words have meanings that survive the legislature. When a new governor comes in, a new legislature, a new DRS Commissioner, there’s no way to guarantee any side agreements will be honored. How will grocery stores be protected in future tax audits if the legislation is unclear? Changing the law is the only way to ensure the tax policy is clear not only today, but for all future years to come.

“We’ve seen what happens when businesses rely on an agency policy instead of the law as written. Just look at the restaurant 80/20 wage rule. Some restaurants are being sued now and could go out of business, and nearly every other restaurant in Connecticut is also at risk at risk of being sued because of it. The only way to protect the restaurants is to put into law the policy that should be followed. And the only way to protect taxpayers and grocery stores is to do the same.

“Also, how does DRS and OPM assume they know the legislative intent of every single Democrat legislator who voted in support of the grocery tax? To assume that the governor’s office knows what every Democrat lawmaker was thinking when they voted sets a dangerous precedent in which a governor’s administration can singlehandedly disregard the words of the legislature. It jeopardizes three separate branches of government.

“If Democrats no longer want to tax groceries, they need to acknowledge what their budget did and make the changes to fix it in a special session. I appreciate that Secretary McCaw admitted the legislation could have been written with greater specificity. That is exactly why the legislature needs to return to specify what should and should not be taxed. Anything short of that is foolish and ridiculous.”