This week Capitol DisPatch considers a trio of topics: Connecticut’s tax burden, more views on the upcoming special session on jobs, and a call for grant applications for veterans in need.
“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue,” said Thomas Paine.
Whether one believes taxes are privilege or plunder, the state’s tax burden is on state legislators’ minds. That’s no surprise since election season arrived and also since the General Assembly will soon meet for a special session on jobs.
, a Republican representing Easton, Redding and Weston in the 135th House District recently emailed his constituents a Bloomberg report that said Connecticut leads the nation in tax burden.
According to Bloomberg, the state ranks number one in tax burden because of its 5 percent income tax, its 6.35 percent sales tax, its $2,381 property tax per capita and because of the between a 7.2 percent to 16 percent inheritance tax with $2 million exemption.
“The numbers tell the story—Connecticut has the nation's highest tax burden and among the worst job growth rates in the country. Obviously these measures are related. I will continue to work to reverse this destructive trend,” Shaban said.
In addition to the increase sales tax, from 6 percent to 6.35 percent, there was a further 3 percentage-point levy on luxury goods such as expensive cars and boats. The state also collects the third-highest property taxes per capita and is one of 14 states to tax Social Security income, according to the report.
“We all expect to pay taxes, but we don’t want to see our taxes wasted,” said state Rep. Terrie Wood, a Republican representing Darien and Norwalk in the 141st House District.
Some legislators said the high standard of living in Connecticut comes with higher incomes, and thus higher taxes.
“Despite Bloomberg saying that CT has the highest tax burden in the nation, Ernst & Young released a report in July showing that Connecticut businesses faced the lowest tax burden in the entire country,” said state Rep. James Albis, a Democrat representing East Haven in the 99th House District.
Albis called the recently passed tax increases unfortunate but necessary to get Connecticut back on track and better positioned for the future.
Wood says the problem is the sheer size of state government.
“It’s increased all the while there is net job loss across the state. Private employers are where tax revenue comes from, not government,” she said. “It’s incumbent on leadership to change that.”
According to Connecticut Voices for Children the other issue facing the state is the concentration of income and the continuing high unemployment rate.
State wide unemployment 9.1 percent 2010, up from 4.9 percent in 1990, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, Connecticut’s median household income, inflation adjusted, $64,031 in 2010, down from $69,606 in 1990.
State Sen. Kevin Kelley, a Republican representing towns in the 21st Senate District including Shelton, said he wasn’t surprised about Bloomberg’s report.
“You have a governor who passed the largest tax increase in the state’s history. But when you bring it [legislation] back home to the district what you find are more families who are struggling,” Kelley said. “I have a middle class constituency and they’re screaming ‘Uncle.’ And what did the state do for them? They asked for more money. They gave them a larger tax bill.”
In less then 10 days the General Assembly will meet for a special session on jobs.
“The jobs session is purely cosmetic,” Wood said. “And it’s ironic that it’s just before the elections.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office took issue since a final package has yet to be presented.
“Her leaders are working to try to make this bipartisan and as helpful as possible to businesses; and raising concerns about a date that was chosen in consultation with every legislative leader, including her own,” Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for Malloy, said in an email.
Moreover, Flanagan said the governor is focused on job growth.
“The recent announcement that Jackson Laboratories will be a making a billion dollar investment in Connecticut is proof that the Governor’s focus is producing results,” Flanagan said. “As we head into the jobs special session, the Governor has been very clear that he wants it to be bipartisan, and he and legislative leaders are working to make that happen.”
CALL TO ACTION FOR VETERANS IN NEED
Two state Senators want local US military veterans in need to know about a new grant offered by the Peter Wojtecki Foundation for Veterans Assistance. It would help pay for rent, mortgage and other expenses for up to one year.
“Far too many of our nation’s military veterans fall on hard times after leaving the service,” said State Sen. Carlo Leone, Chairman of the General Assembly’s Veteran’s Affair Committee and a Democrat representing Stamford in the 27th Senate District.
To be eligible veterans must live in Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk and Stamford; have encountered a hardship primarily due to no fault of their own; and be drug and alcohol free. Visit wojtecki.blogspot.com and download the grant application. Or call (203) 359-0169 or (203) 801-0060. The application deadline is Oct. 31st. The grant will be awarded in December.
Editor's note: This article originally was published by Norwalk Patch at 5:54 a.m. Monday. It's time stamp was changed for layout purposes on the Norwak Patch homepage.