Stefanowski pitches deeper tax cuts, but Lamont calls plan irresponsible
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski proposed a series of “targeted” tax cuts on Tuesday. He says the plan will help families struggling with inflation, but critics still say it could leave Connecticut unable to weather a recession.
Stefanowski picked his childhood neighborhood in New Haven to unveil the plan. Neighbors told him they desperately need help.
"Next door is the grammar school I went to, which is now a methodone clinic,” said Stefanowski.
Stefanowski’s “FIRST” plan stands for “Fight Inflation and Reduce State Taxes.” It would:
• Repeal 1% meals tax
• Drop sales tax from 6.35% to 5.99%
• Eliminate upcoming highway use fee for larger trucks (expected to provide $90 million a year for roads and bridges)
• Extend gas tax holiday through the end of 2023 and repeal the diesel fuel tax
The GOP candidate also wants to create a state version of the federal SALT deduction, which lets people deduct up to $10,000 off their taxable income to make up for property taxes. Single filers making up to $200,000 a year could claim the deduction; joint filers could earn twice that amount.
Instead of a deduction, Connecticut currently offers a $300 credit for property taxes. This year, Gov. Ned Lamont expanded it.
In all, Stefanowski said that "it's going to come up to about $2,000 per household.”
But does his math add up?
To pay for additional tax relief, Stefanowski wants to spend $3 billion of the state's record budget surplus. Lamont says that's irresponsible.
"We're heading into a recession. This is a state that's had deficit upon deficit upon deficit,” he said. “We've had four years of balanced budgets and surpluses. I want to make sure we're strong heading into this recession."
Since the state’s Rainy Day Fund is full, the surplus is also paying down Connecticut’s decades-old pension debt.
Lamont approved historic tax relief this year, including a cap on car taxes, exempting retirement income and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. Parents also received up to $750 in rebate checks this summer.
In 2018, Stefanowski proposed completely eliminating the state income tax within a decade. That would remove about half of the state’s revenues. On Tuesday, Stefanowski said an income tax cut is “not on the table” for now.
"The fact is that four years ago, Bob Stefanowski ran on one message and one message only -- and that was eliminating the income tax,” said state Rep. Josh Elliott (D-Hamden). “That was an unserious message then; it's an unserious message now."