Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Lamont explains disastrous Republican tax plan

Today Ned Lamont issued a detailed press release where he examines and discusses the proposed tax reform plan by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski.

Let's just say it would be an epic disaster for all the people here in Connecticut!

Here is Lamont's statement in full:

Why Bob Stefanowski’s Plan is Radical and Wrong

By Ned Lamont

Six years ago, a Republican politician signed up with far-right economist Arthur Laffer to propose a deceptive, “simple” tax plan. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback would offer his state gigantic new tax breaks that would slash rates across the board and eliminate his state’s top income tax bracket.

It would be like a “shot of adrenaline” to the economy, Brownback promised. Kansans were told it would result in “enormous prosperity” for their state.

Then… reality happened.

When the huge tax cuts went into effect, “their failure was seen almost instantly.” Kansas became a national experiment in extremist economics — and it failed in a spectacular way.

Education was slashed to pay for the tax cut. State aid for education saw the largest decline in two decades, and possibly in state history. The cuts to classrooms were so draconian that they were deemed unconstitutional by a judge.

Budget holes of hundreds of millions of dollars, specifically because of the Republican experiment, ensued. The state’s credit rating was downgraded. Critical services were cut. And eventually the sales tax was hiked, causing “homeowners, workers, and businesses” the most pain.

Facing fiscal turmoil, Kansas lagged far behind the national average in private sector job and GDP growth. It netted only 28,000 new non-farm jobs — fewer than the similar, but considerably smaller, economy of neighboring Nebraska.

The result was a “full-blown disaster for Kansans” because “the governor’s growth strategy is in ruins” as one columnist put it. It put the state “in crisis mode” while actually harming the business climate.

That’s why a supermajority of the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature voted to repeal the income tax cut.

It became a mess, largely because, to use George H.W. Bush’s words, the tax ideas it was premised on were “voodoo economics” (a phrase also popularized here). Kansas has become the national example of what not to do.

Which brings us to Connecticut.

We need to focus on creating jobs and growing the economy — not slashing critical services.

Unfortunately, what happened in Kansas is exactly what Bob Stefanowski is promising as he runs on eliminating the income tax here at home. He promises that it will be a cure-all for our complex economic challenges. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s employing the same economic advisor who was the architect of the failing tax plan in Kansas.

Mr. Stefanowski claims that, like in the Kansas experiment, his plan will “unleash a business boom.”

It won’t.

Why? Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves, and politicians who say they do aren’t telling you the truth.

While my opponent makes these pie-in-the-sky promises, we’ve run the numbers on what will actually happen in our state if the income tax is eliminated.

Similar to Kansas, Connecticut’s income tax accounts for 56 percent of the general fund. That means that basically every line item in the budget will be cut in half or eliminated entirely. Consequently, the following is going to happen if Mr. Stefanowski ever implemented his plan.

First… Property. Taxes. Will. Soar.

It’s guaranteed. State aid represents 27 percent of local government revenue. Without it, property taxes will likely rise in every town. In many, they’ll double.

I believe we need to cut property taxes — because middle class families have been paying too much and deserve relief. I am focused on growing our economy and creating jobs — and that won’t happen by jacking up property taxes in virtually every city and town statewide.

And where property tax rates don’t double, local services — from our educational system, to police, to fire departments — will be gutted.

At a time when we need to be investing in our cities and towns like never before, this plan will make it harder for them to get by.

Mr. Stefanowski’s tax plan, which would cut at least $1 billion in direct state support for local schools, would have devastating effects on our children’s educations, while 8,600 teaching positions statewide would be eliminated under his proposal.

I believe we need to support our teachers, invest in our classrooms, and emphasize STEM so that each of our children receives a world-class education that equips them for the jobs and the industries of tomorrow. Slashing billions in education dollars is a formula for taking us backwards — not forward.

In addition to jeopardizing our children’s ability to succeed in the classroom, Mr. Stefanowski’s plan would adversely affect the most vulnerable in our state.

Mr. Stefanowski’s proposal would slash property tax breaks for 19,669 veterans — or eliminate them entirely for 9,835 Connecticut residents who have served our country bravely.

I believe we have a moral obligation to support every veteran who fought to defend this country — not to roll back common-sense benefits.

We all know that seniors are the anchors of our communities. But the reality is that Mr. Stefanowski’s plan to eliminate the income tax would result in ending tax breaks for 47,000 elderly and disabled residents, or eliminating them entirely for 23,500 individuals.

We need to be a Connecticut where our seniors can age in place and live with dignity. Rolling back these benefits isn’t a roadmap to building a better future for the state.

What’s more, 520 state troopers who protect our communities and 3,500 UConn and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities faculty and staff who educate the leaders of tomorrow would have to be let go.

If we’re going to build a 21st century state, we need to give our state troopers the tools they need to keep driving crime down. And as we do that, we need to give young people the tools they need to get a great education that prepares them for great jobs. It cannot — and should not — be so hard to go to college. Putting barriers on learning is the antithesis to a pro-growth agenda.

When it comes to our kids, 8,788 children of low-income parents will lose child care under this proposal. The 22,000 kids who currently have access to school-based health clinics, and the comprehensive medical coverage they provide, would be denied health care.

That’s just not who we are and who we need to be as a state.

For parents who are saving for college tuition, Connecticut State University tuition would rise by 11% — or $2,604 — under my opponent’s plan. If you’re saving for community college, brace yourself for a 62% spike.

At a time when we need to be preparing everyone with 21st century job training, and just when we need to be delivering Connecticut jobs for Connecticut workers, a massive tuition hike at community colleges simply isn’t conducive to a vibrant economy.

To be clear, this is only some of what would happen — it’s just a partial list….

The impacts of Mr. Stefanowski’s plan are real, and they will be felt across the state. His plan represents an easy answer, rather than a hard choice.

And that’s because my opponent isn’t telling you that your property taxes will skyrocket. Or that the sales tax will have to be jacked up. He isn’t telling teachers they will be fired and parents that school funding will be gutted.

He isn’t telling veterans or the elderly that their tax breaks will go away, or admitting that our already broken infrastructure will crumble as a result.

But it’s the truth under his plan. It’s the false choice, and the bad choice, he’s proposing.

There is no question we need to change how we do business. That’s why I’m a different kind of candidate who’s going to be a different kind of governor.

But the answer isn’t replicating a failed experiment here at home. The answer isn’t to gamble, and treat our budget crisis as a game of roulette.

Instead, I believe the answer lies in being honest and making hard decisions.

I believe in creating jobs and economic growth, and making smart investments.

I believe in cutting your property taxes, while Stefanowski’s plan raises them.

I believe in investing in education, while my opponent will cut it.

I believe in working in a bipartisan way, and in making the kinds of investments that governors of both parties failed to make for decades.

And I believe the choice this November could not be clearer.

It’s a choice between repeating a failed test-case right here in Connecticut with voodoo economics…and building a Connecticut for the future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ned Lamont Wins Primary

In the "Nobody Is The Least Bit Surprised Department", Greenwich millionaire and all-around nice guy Ned Lamont cruised to a massive primary win for Governor over Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.

The final spread was roughly 81% to 19%, with Lamont's message of financial stability and job growth resonating with the voters.

Former Sec. of State Susan Bysiewicz also prevailed in the race for Lt. Governor. Political newcomer Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman had a very good showing with strong grassroots support, receiving around 40% of the vote. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Eva in the future.

William Tong won for Attorney General and Shawn Wooden got the Treasurer's nod.

In an historic win, 5th CD candidate for Congress and 2016 Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes won big over Simsbury 1st Selectman Mary Glassman. Hayes is positioned to be the first black Congresswoman from New England should she win in the heavily Democratic district in November.

On the Republican side, GOP newcomer and Madison millionaire Bob Stefanowski upset heavy favorite Danbury mayor Mark Boughton. In the crowded field, Stefanowski's total vote didn't break the 30% mark.

Today President Trump tweeted his support for the recent Democrat who didn't even vote in the 2016 election. I'm guessing with Trump's endorsement we'll probably see Stefanowski get a similar percentage of the vote in November.

I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of Stefanowski's message now that he's defeated the other Trumpian candidates. Noteworthy is that not a single GOP candidate has even hinted that any of the President's toxic policies are anything they would disagree with.

But for now, it's really great to bask in a big win with Ned Lamont, and start getting geared up for a bruising campaign with all the SuperPAC money that will flow into the opposition's coffers.

I'd check to see if any of the cash can be traced back to rubles!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

One Week until the Connecticut Primary

UPDATE 8/11: I've changed my mind on my pick for AG, much to the credit of my FB friends who gave me plenty to think about. See below.


Here we are, approaching yet another significant election.

This will decide who will likely be leading us for the next four years.
I've been quite vocal in my support of Ned Lamont for governor, and for good reason. Ned has a history of wanting to serve the people of Connecticut. He's a true-blue supporter of many issues important to us, and as governor I expect he'll have the right temperament and judgment to lead us through what will likely be a couple of difficult years for the state.

The next governor will inherent a deficit that's possibly running somewhere around $2 billion in the red. I support Ned Lamont to be that next governor, and I look forward to him continuing to connect with the people of the state as we approach the November election. Obviously, I endorse Ned for Governor.
In the other races, Sec. of State Denise Merrill and State Comptroller (and State Nerd) Kevin Lembo are unopposed in the primary, so they'll get to enjoy the evening watching the returns come in.
In the Attorney General's race, Rep. William Tong is the party endorsed candidate, but he expects a significant challenge from former prosecutor Chris Mattei and State Sen. Paul Doyle. I think that his experience as the House Chairman of the Judiciary Committee gives Tong an edge over his opponents, because he's used to working with the State House.

UPDATE: I've learned quite a bit more about Chris Mattei in the last several days. Mattei has been a very solid progressive voice, and he's the prosecutor who sent corrupt governor John Rowland to prison. Plus, learning about William Tong's voting record has troubled me.

To quote Jon Kantrowitz from my FB page:

Tong Votes:
– Voted against two budgets, HB7400 (2007) and SB1801 (2009), which would have raised the income tax on high-income households.
– Voted against HB6715 (2007) to legalize medical marijuana.
– Voted against SB1014 (2011) to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
– Voted against HB5291 (2012) that would have increased the minimum wage.
– Voted against SB914 (2015) that would have allowed employees to recover twice the amount of damages associated with an employer’s failure to pay wages.
- Voted against HB6600 to override Republican Governor Rell’s veto of legislation that would establish a public healthcare option in Connecticut.

So, I now officially endorse William Tong Chris Mattei for Attorney General!

For Lt. Governor, it gets very interesting. Former Sec. of State Susan Bysiewicz is the party endorsed candidate, having ended up with about 60% of the convention delegate votes. But Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman, an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, entered the race just days before the final May deadline. She claimed that the Democrats needed more diversity on their slate. Which is a noble reason, but likely not enough to win a primary against an experience opponent.

But something interesting happened. At the State Democratic Convention she got 40% of the vote. These are votes cast by engaged delegates, who tend to be much more knowledgeable than the general public about the issues. She gained a lot of support against a supposedly well-respected former state officer.
Then Eva went on the road and reached out to the voters, and there seems to be a significant swing towards supporting her. Eva was connecting with the voters, and her message would bring a certain balance to the Dem's ticket in November. A Lamont/Bermudez-Zimmerman ticket will likely be unbeatable in November. And yes, I officially endorse Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman for Lt. Gov.

For State Treasurer, I don't really know enough about the candidates to make a choice. That's on me. I'm very busy. Just be sure to vote.

In the Federal primary, Sen. Chris Murphy and the four current House incumbents are unopposed. In the Fifth Congressional District, the race is more wide open. The two candidates on the ballot came to a virtual tie, ensuring an interesting contest.
Former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman is the party (just barely) endorsed candidate for the open seat, vacated by the retiring Rep. Esty.
Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year, is vying to be the first black Democrat to represent Connecticut in the U.S. House.

Since I can't vote in this contest (me being in Rosa's 3rd CD), I hesitate to endorse a candidate here. I will say that judging from the statements and positions held by the candidates, I think Connecticut will be well-served to have either of them representing our state.

So, that's it. Get out and vote August 14th. Polls are open from 6am-8pm, so no excuses!