Griffin Namin

Connecticut Could Become Most Tolled State in the Nation

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Thursday, May 16th, 2019, 1:46 PM PERMALINK

Connecticut lawmakers could vote any time on a measure to impose a costly new tolling system on the state.

Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s first-term Governor, wants electronic tolling to be placed on vehicles, cars and trucks, on all three major highways, I-84, I-91, I-95, and Route 15 - which spans from Stamford to Hartford.

The tolls put forth in Mr. Lamont’s budget would appear on every single major route in the State. Studies have found that the brunt of the burden will be put on the taxpayers of Connecticut, almost 60-75% of the revenue brought in to the state, from tolling, would be paid by residents.

Proponents argue the state’s recently-passed transportation lockbox makes the tolls user fees and a non-issue. Having the lockbox is better than not having one, but legislators have ways to get around it if they want to.

Currently, the State faces a political dilemma as well; if tolls are put in, the State could lose the $528.6 million from the federal government that has been afforded to the state because they do not have tolls.

“The Reason Foundation found that Connecticut ranked 44th in cost effectiveness for highway performance. They found that Connecticut spends nearly $480,000 for each mile of road versus a national average is just over $160,000 per mile.

“The Foundation reports that administrative costs significantly contribute to the $480,000 price. Connecticut spent more than $83,000 per mile in administrative costs compared to $10,000 per mile nationally. Connecticut still outspends the national total average by more than $250,000 per mile even if those costs are subtracted.”

The Hartford Courant, recently outlined five reasons why tolling in Connecticut will be bad:

  • It already costs too much to drive in state
  • It will take a very long time for the State to see return on the tolls
  • It is another tax hike
  • Pennsylvania is $11 billion in debt from attempting to put in tolls
  • Chaos for drivers – Exits are a mile apart in Southwestern Connecticut, you will suffocate them

Another concern is that jobs and businesses would be impacted. With higher taxes, would come lost jobs, lower wages, and another fiscal crisis for the state. Peter Malone, the CEO of Thurston Foods, a Wallingford-based supplier of lunch foods, has stated that if tolls are put in, his business of 215 employees, 60 trucks, and 3,000 customers would cost his business close to $250,000 per year alone.

Connecticut residents already pay a huge tax burden, including on transportation related costs.  According to the American Petroleum Institute, Connecticut drivers pay 43.8 cents per gallon in state taxes. In addition, residents of the State of Connecticut also pay an $18 gasoline tax, which was found to be the 7th highest in the nation.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

More from Americans for Tax Reform


New Mexico House Democrats Advance Largest Tax Hike in State History

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Friday, March 8th, 2019, 4:42 PM PERMALINK

Despite being in a billion-dollar budget surplus, lawmakers in the State House approved the largest tax increases in state history. The tax hike, House Bill 6, was approved largely along party lines, with two Conservative Democrats joining the Republican caucus in voting against the bill.    

Among other things, House Bill 6 would increase the cigarette tax by 10 cents a cigarette, increase the vehicle excise tax to 4.2 percent from 3 percent, and impose taxes on internet sales. HB 6 would also increase the state's top personal income tax to 6.5 percent from 4.9 percent.   

Currently, New Mexico already has the 15th top marginal personal income tax rate in the country and 3rd highest among its neighbors. Under HB 6, New Mexico would be even less competitive, with the highest income tax in the region. The chart below offers a comparison. Rate proposed by HB 6 is in red:     

State

Income Tax Rates

New Mexico

4.9% / 6.5%

Arizona

4.54

Utah

5%

Colorado

4.63%

Oklahoma

5%

Texas

None

Nevada

None

 

*Chart compares top marginal individual income tax rates.

Source: https://www.thebalance.com/state-income-tax-rates-3193320

Raising the income tax, and the other tax hikes included in HB 6, for that matter, would be a huge mistake. In addition to inflicting a great deal of harm on the hardworking individual taxpayers and families across New Mexico, HB 6 would also hurt small businesses, which typically file their taxes under the individual code. Forcing small businesses to fork over more money to the government to fund bloated spending programs would leave them with less resources to invest in jobs, wages, and business operations.    

Adding insult to injury, HB 6 would also deter investment from the state, as income taxes are commonly cited by business owners and CEOs as a key determinant of business location: the higher the income tax, the less attractive the state.

Tax increases are always counterproductive to economic growth and are never justified. Implementing HB 6 in New Mexico would be especially ridiculous since the state is experiencing a massive budget surplus.

Photo Credit: Flickr - Wolfgang Staudt


Fight for $15 Knocks Out Jobs, Hours, Hurting Workers

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Posted by Doug Kellogg, Griffin Namin on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019, 10:53 AM PERMALINK

As many states hike their minimum wages in response to the far-left "Fight for 15" campaign, the evidence is rolling in that this policy hurts the very workers it's supposed to help.

 

New York City is one of the most high profile areas on the road to $15, and a high cost of living area. One might think it could absorb a radical wage mandate, but even in New York, that is not proving to be the case.

 

Investors Business Daily reports: “Over the past four years, the minimum wage for New York City restaurants that employ more than 10 workers went from $10.50 an hour to $15. That's a whopping 43% increase. Next year, every restaurant, big and small, will have to pay their workers at least $15 an hour."

 

These massive increases to wages are backfiring on all levels across the city, "4,000 workers lost jobs at full-service restaurants, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. By the end of last year, there were fewer restaurant workers in the city than in November 2016. Even though overall employment climbed by more than 163,000."

 

According to a survey conducted by the New York City Hospitality Alliance, when asking full service restaurants, “74.50% respondents report that they will reduce employee hours; and 47.10% will eliminate jobs in 2019 as a result of mandated wage increases that took effect on December 31, 2018."

 

In addition, the survey also found that “76.50% of respondents report reducing employee hours, and 36.30% eliminated jobs in 2018 in response to mandated wage.”

 

The $15 wage is an attack on workers most of all. But it is also hurting restaurants - especially moderately priced restaurants in the city. Rosa Mexicana operates four restaurants in Manhattan and estimates the $15 mandated wage will increase their labor costs by $600,000 this year.

 

Liberal leaders in states across the nation seem to be rushing to get wage hikes, as if they want to outpace the disastrous reality that these policies will bring. That way they can get headlines and pretend they did something to help workers, before it is obvious that they aren't helping at all.

 

Well, time is up, and any politicians pushing a radical wage hike are doing so knowing the consequences.

 

Photo Credit: Flickr - Ronald Ehrl


Everything CT Governor Ned Lamont Wants to Increase Taxes On in Budget

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Posted by Doug Kellogg, Griffin Namin on Thursday, February 28th, 2019, 1:18 PM PERMALINK

New Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has floated various tax hikes leading up to his formal biennial budget proposal, but now we have the full plan, and it’s not a cheap one for the state’s already-overburdened taxpayers.

His “A Path Forward” plan is filled with tax increases, broken promises, and high fees. The unambitious name is fitting, it’s a path alright, one terrible path to choose among other options – like finally containing Connecticut’s rising spending, and pension liabilities.

The total bill for Lamont’s revenue proposals exceeds $1.06 billion in 2020 and $1.486 billion in 2021.

The massive amount of tax hikes the Governor has proposed is led by sweeping new applications of the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax, and taking away sales tax exemptions that sensibly have been used to ease costs on necessities, like doing your taxes, or buying textbooks. The Governor’s assault on exemptions will also hurt Connecticut residents who belong to non-profit credit unions. Credit unions by their nature return benefits to members who live in the community, and often offer free educational services. And interestingly newspapers will be hit as well, maybe Lamont isn't happy with his media coverage. 

It is incredible how damaging and tone deaf these new sales tax are… Need to take your dog to the vet? That will cost more. Does your child need a bike helmet? That will cost more. Ready to drive your new baby to Mom and Dad’s house? Safety seats will cost more.

If Lamont wants more uniformity in the state sales tax, he should lower the rates for everyone, not discourage people from purchasing necessary products and services, and make it even more unaffordable to live in Connecticut.

Here’s the rundown of notable Lamont’s tax hikes (full list here):

  • 10-cent plastic shopping bag fee
  • Soda tax
  • Text book tax
  • Newspaper & magazine tax
  • Renew corporate tax surcharge
  • Boat sales tax hike
  • Bike helmet tax
  • Child car seat tax
  • Veterinary services tax
  • Credit union tax
  • Hair cut tax
  • Parking tax
  • Garbage tax
  • Camping tax
  • Nonprescription medicine tax
  • Vaping wholesale tax
  • Movie tax

This could get worse if the Democrats’ Senate Bill 475, which would increase the statewide sales tax to 6.85 percent also gains traction.

Senate Republican leaders have put forward a plan that offers no tax increases, no tolls, and lowers costs statewide.

Photo Credit: Flickr


Wisconsin Governor Shuts Down Tax Relief

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Friday, February 22nd, 2019, 4:42 PM PERMALINK

Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers vetoed the first piece of legislation that was sent to his desk by the Republican-controlled legislature. With his veto, Evers, who defeated two term Republican Governor Scott Walker in November, passed on an opportunity to provide Wisconsin taxpayers with much needed relief.

Republicans were poised to use surplus funds in the state budget to implement a middle-class tax cut, but Governor Evers got in their way, demanding that any tax relief be coupled with tax hikes. Republican legislators’ plan would have given the taxpayers of Wisconsin $490 million in relief this year, followed by $338 million in subsequent annual relief, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Evers expressed his displeasure with way the Republicans in the legislature handled the process of passing this tax cut.

"I am troubled and disappointed that this major fiscal policy was introduced and passed without bipartisan support and cooperation," Evers said. "The people of the State of Wisconsin expect and deserve for their leaders to work together, and I plan to do my part to ensure that happens."

Providing tax relief to the residents of Wisconsin is crucial as the state has the 10th highest income tax rate in the entire nation at 7.65%. In addition, Wisconsin residents also pay the 4th highest average property taxes in the country as a percentage of owner-occupied housing values.

The projected surplus in the state budget that Republicans were hoping to use to pay for the tax cuts had almost $700 million. With his first veto, Governor Evers has drawn a line in the sand, making clear that he wants tax hikes sent to his desk

Photo Credit: Flickr - Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism


Minnesota Governor Proposes New Tax Increases

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019, 2:52 PM PERMALINK

Yesterday, newly-inaugurated Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, laid out his executive budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. 

Currently, the State of Minnesota has a $1.5 billion surplus. The Governor appears not to be satisfied with that amount of money and is demanding more from taxpayers.

Governor Walz has presented the State Legislature with a budget that will increase the gas tax by 20%, the registration tax, motor vehicle sales tax, and raise highway bonds as well. All in all, transportation and infrastructure will see an $18,000,000,000 increase over the next twenty years. 

The gas tax that Governor Walz has proposed will catapult Minnesota to the 4th highest gas tax rate in the nation. A gas tax increase would hit the working families of Minnesota the hardest. The last thing they want right now is to have to double down on the price of gas.

Increasing the gas tax would make everyday life more expensive for Minnesota families and businesses. The fact this regressive tax hike will do the greatest harm to households who can least afford it is already bad enough. It’s even worse if, and when existing transportation dollars are not responsibly spent.  

In addition to the new transportation tax increases, Walz has also asked to increase the sick tax, on patients seeking medical care, by $1.4 billion. This sick tax is used to pay for goods and services in the healthcare industry.

The sick tax was supposed to expire, however, Governor Walz is going to extend it. This tax has been used to pay for Minnesota Care and other subsidized health services

According to Strategas Research Partners, 60% of the federal income tax cut would be wiped out by a $0.25 gas tax increase and rising prices. The United States is a more attractive destination for investment and commerce following the enactment of federal tax reform, and global capital flows are expected to shift to the U.S. as a result.  

Photo Credit: Flickr - The 2017 DAV National Convention


Connecticut Legislators Try to Tax Away 2nd Amendment

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Thursday, February 14th, 2019, 6:22 PM PERMALINK

A new legislative session brings new legislators, and in Connecticut, a new tax hike intended to target gun owners.

The new proposal would impose a 50 percent sales tax on ammunition, aiming to take a tax bite out of the Second Amendment and grab money for Hartford at the same time. 

The bill is being pushed by Connecticut state Senator Will Haskell and state Representative Jillian Gilchrest.

As noted by the CT Mirror:

Ammunition is currently taxed at the standard sales tax rate, which is 6.35 percent. A 50-cartridge box of handgun ammunition for a 9mm weapon costs about $10 at Cabela's; this proposal would increase the cost to consumers for that ammunition from $10.63 to $15.00 after taxes. 

This measure is clearly a strategy to make it more difficult for Connecticut citizens to exercise their rights because left-wing Hartford politicians don’t like those rights. 

Gilchrest and Haskell are both new members who won running from the left.

Haskell is also co-sponsor of numerous pieces of legislation that hurt Connecticut taxpayers, including: a new tax on liquid vaping products, a radical minimum wage increase, and “free” (meaning taxpayer-funded) college tuition. 

A higher ammunition tax in the State of Connecticut would hurt small businesses that sell sporting goods, especially ones that sell ammunition, rifles, and other forms of hunting equipment.

It would also be particularly harmful to Northwestern and Eastern Connecticut, where people rely on hunting.

Holly Sullivan, an Executive Board Member of Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said of the tax:

“This proposed tax would make Connecticut residents less safe by restricting their ability to train, practice and develop the skills necessary to defend themselves. It drives a greater divide between those who can afford it and those who cannot. What other Constitutional right can only be executed based on ability to pay?”

Sullivan added this bill “hurts small business and ultimately the state. If this tax is enacted, many will simply shop out of state.”


Massachusetts Governor Aiming An Excise Tax On Opioid Sales

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019, 3:44 PM PERMALINK

Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, has proposed a well-intentioned but misguided 15% statewide excise tax on the sale of prescription opioid drugs.

The Republican governor’s budget estimates that $14 million would come from the tax on the in-state sale of opioid drugs. Baker’s office has vowed to use the funds generated from the tax to “provide treatment and services for substance misuse.”

Baker’s proposal in Massachusetts comes two months after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saw his Opioid Stewardship Act(OSA), which was enacted in early 2018, struck down in court. A Federal Judge ruled the tax to be unconstitutional.

"While the animating concerns of the OSA are plainly valid," the Judge stated her ruling, "the method by which the act extracts payments from opioid manufacturers and distributors to redress those concerns violates the Dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution."

Further, the Judge noted that, "the OSA is not a tax but is rather a regulatory penalty on opioid manufacturers and distributors. And as currently structured, it improperly burdens interstate commerce."

Baker’s proposal is different from the one put forward by Governor Cuomo last year. The State of New York intended on raising $100 million each year “by assessing each company a ‘ratable share’ based on total sales or distribution of morphine milligram equivalents, an opioid dosage measurement.” Cuomo’s Act was projected to combat the epidemic with $600 million, fueled by a “surcharge on pill producers.”

Unlike New York, the bill going before the Massachusetts legislature will not strictly “prohibit pharmaceutical companies from passing on the cost of the tax to consumers.” 

For more information on opioid tax proposals in other states, and why these misguided proposals are emotion-driven non-solutions, check out ATR president Grover Norquist’s column in NBC New THINK on the trend of taxing tragedy

Photo Credit: Flickr - The New England Council


Dental Therapy Is the Free-Market, Taxpayer-Friendly Way to Offer More Affordable Care

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019, 10:06 AM PERMALINK

 
In Florida, the state legislature has a great opportunity to expand access to dental care, making it more affordable as well.
 
They can do so by passing a package of legislation, introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, to allow dental therapists to train and practice in the state.
 
Dental therapists operate under the supervision of a dentist, and go through extensive training alongside dental students, allowing them to perform a range of procedures.
 
The University of Florida College of Dentistry defines a dental therapist as “An oral health professional who works under the supervision of a licensed dentist. A member of the oral health care team who is educated to provide evaluative, preventive, restorative, and minor surgical dental care within their scope of practice.”
 
Put another way, they can do a lot more than a dental hygienist, but they don’t do everything a dentist does. 
 
They free their supervising dentist up to directly treat more cases that demand their level of expertise. Perhaps most significantly from a public policy perspective, they expand access to care to underserved communities, and make care more affordable.
 
Led by Floridians for Dental Access, nearly 50 groups are calling for reform in Tallahassee; “Importantly, practicing under general supervision would allow dental therapists to be sent to nursing homes, schools, facilities for people with disabilities, rural satellite clinics and other places serving people who face obstacles traveling to receive care.”
 
A new James Madison Institute report finds there are several benefits of placing dental therapists in a practice; “increased access to care for underserved populations, including low income, the uninsured, rural residents and older adults, improved oral health outcomes in underserved communities, reductions in wait times and travel time, improved patient satisfaction, and dental practice cost savings, increases in average monthly revenue and increased productivity.”
 
A report last year by WalletHub indicates that Florida is at the bottom of the nation as states for poor dental health (44th out of 50th). “Florida ranks 36 among the states for the availability of dentists based on population, according to the findings. Massachusetts, South Dakota, Michigan, Maryland and the District of Columbia have the most dentists.
 
Florida ranks 29th out of 50th in terms of number of dentists per capita, having half a dentist for every 1,000 citizens.
 
Clearly there is a need for this reform in Florida, and the opportunity is there for lawmakers.
 
Of course, some opponents are trying to get in the way. Yet, they are mischaracterizing the bill. One ADA representative told WFSU news that “creating a licensing program for a new type of dental provider will increase regulations and costs, and she says mid-level providers can’t compete with a dentist’s level of knowledge.”
 
As you already know, the point of dental therapists is not to replace or compete with dentists, but to work under their supervision with patients they are trained to assist. Far from increasing regulations, this removes government barriers so that the market can offer an affordable, accessible solution for underserved folks. Right now people are going without care because of dumb government regulation, it is time to fix that.
 
The State of North Dakota also has legislation on their docket this session as well. Americans for Tax Reform urged members of the North Dakota State HouseCommittee on Human Services to support the legislation, House Bill 1426. The bill advanced out of committee this week, exciting news, and setting a good example for Florida to follow. 
 
With dental therapy, dentists who want to expand their practice and add therapists to it will be free to do so. The therapists, if permitted, would be able to concentrate on regular services and make it possible for the practice to take on more clients and accept more low-cost procedures. This would leave the dentists to focus on other pressing issues in their office; more complex cases, paperwork, managing the practice, etc. etc.
 
The limited access to care across Florida and North Dakota is a perfect opportunity for dental therapy. 

 

Photo Credit: Flickr - Sara


Connecticut Is Still A Tax Capital Of The Nation. And No New Ideas From Governor Ned Lamont.

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Posted by Griffin Namin on Friday, January 25th, 2019, 1:23 PM PERMALINK

On Wednesday, January 9, 2019 former cable executive, 2006 Democratic nominee for US Senate, and 2010 Democratic Candidate for Governor, Ned Lamont was sworn into a four-year term as Connecticut’s 89th Governor.

Lamont defeated Republican Bob Stefanowski in the November General Election by just 3.2 percent of the vote. Stefanowski ran on a platform of cutting taxes and creating opportunities for jobs to come back to the state’s once booming economy.

During Governor Dan Malloy’s tenure (2011-2019), major companies, including General Electric and Aetna insurance, moved out of the state due to the high cost of doing business. The loss of these major employers was a central talking point for both Lamont and Stefanowski during the general election campaign.

Malloy authorized a $1.8 billion increase in his first year in office, 2011. Four years later he signed the second largest tax increase in state history, an increase that was worth between $650 billion and $900 billion.

Connecticut has become one of the worst states to do business in. According to Forbes Best State for Business rankings in 2018, Connecticut ranks 40th out of the 50 states. In addition to that, Connecticut also stands at number 40 out of 50 in terms of the most competitive states, according to the Beacon Hill Institute.

Now that Lamont holds power, without major Republican opposition in the State House or State Senate, what is he going to do about lowering property taxes for families and taxes on businesses to make Connecticut business-friendly again?

In his State of the State address, Lamont addressed the fact that Connecticut is not what it used to be. “But over the last generation, Connecticut’s entrepreneurial zip has slipped. We are no longer a place that is viewed as hospitable or encouraging to new business.”

Lamont urged members of the Connecticut General Assembly to make an effort to return Connecticut to what it used to be. “Connecticut, it’s time to return to our inventive and entrepreneurial roots. Our future life’s in doubling down on what makes us great and reimagining our unique potential.”

With a message full of pep and bravado, one would think that there is nothing missing from it. Yet, there is one major element missing from Lamont’s plan for the next four years; substance.

There is no mention in the speech of how his administration is going to attempt to correct the ongoing fiscal crisis. In addition, Lamont did not discuss how he is going to provide relief to the taxpayers of Connecticut. 

If the newly christened Governor wants to solve Connecticut’s fiscal crisis, he must present a budget that focuses on getting people back to work and return to the state, reduces the size of government, adopts zero-based budgeting, and cuts costs across the board.

Photo Credit: State of Connecticut - Office of the Governor


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