• CT State Budget: Taking Us Farther In The Wrong Direction

    July 4, 2023
    CT State Capitol, Public Domain.

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    By Senator Rob Sampson and Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco

    The 2023 legislative session has concluded, and you may have heard that the recently passed budget included a tax break, but we wanted to set the record straight on exactly what that means. This year’s budget document is an 832-page behemoth filled not just with more government spending than ever, but countless other items snuck in at the last minute.

    Is there really a tax cut?

    Fact: You cannot increase state spending 7.5% and then tell people you are taxing them less.

    It's clearly not true. The total spending figure in this Democrat budget is more than $51 billion dollars - an extraordinary increase of $2.7 billion - $900 million in the first year and then nearly $2 billion in the second year. All that money comes from taxes.

    There is some fidgeting with the numbers – a modest reduction in the income tax rate for lower bracket filers but effectively, there is no tax cut in this budget. We have all been paying loads more taxes in recent years because of the elimination of exemptions for certain goods and services – policies passed by the same people now suggesting they want to tax you less. Even more importantly, we have all been paying more taxes because of inflation. Inflation makes everything we purchase cost more. Think about it, virtually everything we buy, goods and services, from groceries to gasoline, to haircuts to energy, costs more now. The result is that the state government is taking in record tax revenues.

    If it were up to us, we would have returned every extra penny and more back to the taxpayers.

    Instead, this Democrat budget gives back only a tiny fraction of the extra money we have been paying. It works out to a maximum of $20-25 per month for single filers. That is nothing compared to the extra taxes we continue to pay.

    What else is in the budget document?

    The whole bill contains around 435 sections. The first 50-75 sections are what could truly be considered part of the budget. The rest is a conglomeration of bills and policies that did not advance through the proper legislative process and were instead simply stuffed into this giant omnibus bill.

    While there are positive items, funding for education, a modest expansion of privatization via increased funding to non-profits, there is little in the way of corresponding policy to make it all work – little change in education policy, and no visible reduction in the state’s workforce owing to a shift to non-profits.

    There are, however, many controversial policy provisions we strongly believe that most Connecticut residents would not agree with.

    Ask yourself where you stand on each of these items.

    1. Expanded Healthcare Coverage for Undocumented Illegal Immigrants up to Age 19 - Millions of Connecticut taxpayer dollars.
    2. Money reserved as a backstop for the Teacher's Retirement Program swept to be used to fund $3,200 per child Baby Bond program. Yes, taxpayer money for the reserve fund for the Teacher's Retirement Program taken for a government sponsored program to provide savings bonds for each infant born to low-income parent(s). This is a nice gesture, but should taxpayers be paying for that?
    3. Expansion of Debt Free College Program. Yes, more taxpayer dollars used to provide free college.
    4. Allocates $50 million each year to settle a union strike.
    5. Uses tax dollars to pay for $8.5 million of medical debt.
    6. “Earmarked” projects for "various grants," arts and tourism that total more than $7 million.
    7. Bailout of City of Hartford Sewage System Repairs. Should taxpayers pay for this and who knows just how many millions it will cost?
    8. Highly Controversial John Lewis Voting Rights Bill debated for hours in the senate stuffed in budget rather than separate house vote. Rather than a contentious and lengthy debate it in the House, majority Democrats simply added it to the 400+ sections of the budget.
    9. Expansion of Gender-Affirming Healthcare Services including a study for HUSKY insurance coverage.
    10. Services for prison inmates with “gender incongruence.”
    11. $6 Million Student Loan Reimbursement for those making as much as $125K - Again, a nice gesture but should we be paying for tuition for people making $125K per year!!
    12. $1.2 Million for the Administration of the $6M program above - Only in government!
    13. Up to another $80 Million from CT taxpayers for improvements to the XL Center.
    14. Adds staffing and funding to expand and review messaging platform for inmates.
    15. Extending the 10% Corporate Surcharge Tax for another 3 years.
    16. Not enough funding to towns for early voting/voting access over two years to implement 14 days of early voting (Yet another unfunded mandate and there's no guarantee that towns will receive funding)
    17. Finally, a disgraceful abuse of power overriding the local control of Middlebury’s town government by “interested parties” in the state legislature.

    Connecticut Democrats and Hartford politicians have spent the past month congratulating themselves for this terrible budget. We offer our thanks and congratulations to the relatively few Republicans who had the courage to stand on principle and vote no.

    Throughout the process, House and Senate Republicans consistently offered alternatives with less spending and real tax relief. It’s inexplicable to us that most of our colleagues abandoned those values to vote for what could only be considered a 100% Democrat budget that includes a huge expansion of government, more spending than ever, ignoring local control of zoning, ignoring federal immigration laws, irresponsible policy decisions, not to mention promoting a progressive lifestyle agenda.

    Will the people of Connecticut benefit from this budget? Will businesses? Millennials? Seniors? Will more jobs be created, or more opportunity be provided?

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    Where are the pro-freedom, pro-growth principles that Republicans stand for?

    They are largely absent. Sadly, there is nothing here that will make Connecticut a more affordable or attractive place to live, work, start a business, or retire. There is nothing to reduce property taxes, make healthcare or housing more affordable, nothing to expand economic growth or increase job opportunities. The state government as an entity, and the Democrats who run it, they will surely benefit.

    This was a bad vote plain and simple. It endangers the future prosperity of our state. It also advances the perception that there is little daylight between self-proclaimed “Connecticut Republicans” and majority Democrats.

    Republican party leaders in Connecticut have attempted to differentiate themselves from their national counterparts for years but in the process of shaking off their association on social issues, they are now losing their way on economic issues as well.

    That cannot stand. If the Republican party in our state fails to advocate for Republican principles and be the voice for those who believe in them, Connecticut will continue to falter. Hard working Americans will continue to leave for greener pastures and redder states. More businesses will choose other states too, and they will take jobs with them. Seniors will be the worst hit of all, struck with rising costs while on fixed incomes.

    Now more than ever, it is Republicans who should be shouting our message of less government and more freedom from the rooftops. Belief and trust in the people we represent rather than government is not only the correct path forward, it also a winning message.

    We don’t relish being hard on our own party. However, this is a wakeup call. We will continue to stand for Republican principles – social and economic – and will continue to do so without fear – and in the confidence that we are right and our voices matter. We are proud to stand with the people in our district who refuse to be fooled by political doublespeak. They want a restoration of American values - freedom, small government, and real representation.

    We promise to continue fighting for them and to continue pressing our colleagues in both parties to join us.

    Senator Rob Sampson and Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco can be found online at senatorsampson.com, repmastrofrancesco.com and various social media sites.

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    Rob Sampson

    State Senator Rob Sampson represents Connecticut’s 16th State Senate District of Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Waterbury and Wolcott.
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