[box]by State Rep. Dave Yaccarino, North Haven[/box]
In early February the 2014 legislative session officially began and we have some difficult issues to tackle during the next three months.
As a “short session” our main focus will be on budget adjustments. If you’ve read the newspaper or watched the news you might think that our state has bounced back from the recession. The Governor has repeatedly mentioned a $500 million surplus this year and how he will use that money to give back to people. The reality is the “surplus” only exists because the Governor delayed $400 million in debt service payments and borrowed $750 million to put in to the state’s checking account for ongoing expenses. The non-partisan office of fiscal analysis is projecting billion-dollar-a-year deficits each of the next two fiscal years.
The Governor is proposing to use the so-called surplus to offer tax rebate checks of $55 and restore tax exemptions to things like non-prescription drugs that previously existed. He also proposed an increase in the elderly renter’s rebate program. This is Election year grandstanding. Malloy wants to look like a hero but in his first term he instituted the largest tax increase in state history, eliminated tax exemptions on non-prescription drugs and clothing and footwear and reduced the elderly renter’s rebate program. His sudden reverse course is a see-through attempt to appease voting blocs.
I think we need to take a different approach to our state budgeting. If we reduced spending and eased restrictions and regulations on businesses we could encourage economic growth while reducing debt without borrowing to cover ongoing expenses. Government needs to get out of the way of our small businesses so they have the time and capitol needed to expand and create jobs that are so sorely needed. If tax relief was a standing policy- rather than an Election year afterthought- people would have more money in their pockets to reinvest in our economy. The gas tax, for example, is exorbitantly higher than other states- close to 16 cents higher than any other New England state. This places an undue burden on families and businesses and leads residents of other states to treat Connecticut as a pass-through instead of stopping to shop and eat at our establishments. But the gas tax is just one of the many taxes we pay to live in this state. The Governor’s historic tax increases in 2010 did not have the desired effect because people are working less, making less and spending
This session I will continue to work to change the narrative in Hartford, fight for more responsible budgeting and improve the economic and business climate in this state. Given the ideology of the majority party at the Capitol it will be difficult to do; but, it’s a fight worth waging. If you have any issues or concerns I welcome you to contact my office by calling (860) 240-8700 or sending an email to [email protected]