To the Editor:
Gov. Ned Lamont is preening over the $600 million in tax cuts to Connecticut’s residents, which he and his administration assert will eclipse the 1995 reforms of former Gov. John Roland. We here in Connecticut are to be pitied when, in 2022, Lamont has to engage in a one-sided “mine is bigger” contest with someone who held office 27 years ago.
In fact, Lamont’s plan is yet another election-year scheme to redistribute less than 10 percent of this year’s surpluses – surpluses derived from a massive infusion of federal money and a large windfall from capital gains tax receipts — to key constituencies.
Sure, some residents may benefit, but, in reality, most taxpayers will pony up more – lots more.
Take car tax relief, for example. The governor and state legislators have graciously deigned to cap the auto tax at 32.46 mills. Not smiling are the residents of 120 Connecticut municipalities that have kept millage rates below the ceiling. No savings for you, says the governor.
But what about the rest of us? Personally, I stand to see my tax rate drop by 1.3 mills. As with Lamont’s 25- cent gas tax holiday, however, the relief is illusory.
Car taxes in Connecticut are based on the National Automobile Dealers Association’s estimated retail value of cars. Not trade-in value. Not private sale value. Towns, in cahoots with the state, use the highest value calculated by NADA to assess taxes. Thanks to Covid, strong demand and weak supply have conspired to push the value of used cars into the stratosphere.
The value of my 17-year-old car, which depreciates in normal times, is now $1,500 higher than it was a year ago. I will now pay my town 41 percent more in taxes than I did a year ago. That includes my tax cap savings. My husband’s later model hybrid has shot up a whopping $7,500 in value over last year. Taxes on that car will climb 64 percent.
There’s a reason our town leaders across the state are doing the happy dance. Grand lists rose this year due not to economic expansion, but because of inflation, that insidious hidden monster that erodes all household incomes, regardless of wealth.
A friend of mine who lives out of state recently took a job to launch a media start up in Hartford. A young dad with a solid income, this guy epitomizes the new blood Connecticut’s economy demands if the state is to grow. When I asked if he’d be moving north, he said no, then added, “I don’t know how you all have put up with this as long as you have.”
He’s right. Too many of us shrug our shoulders and say, “Not this time,” when leaders toss out our money to appease groups whose future depends not on giveaways, but on real economic and educational reform.
This time, however, the governor and his allies have taken guile to a new low by currying public praise for their beneficence, all the while knowing inflation will insure a torrent of cash for the public purse.
Faith Ham is the operations director for Charter Oak Leadership Program, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting founding principles, free markets, and limited government.