Mark Detlor

CT Governor Ned Lamont Demands Regressive Statewide Soda Tax

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Friday, April 26th, 2019, 4:18 PM PERMALINK

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont wants his state to be the first to pass a state-wide tax on sodas and sugary drinks.

The new tax is one among many included in the Governor’s budget proposal.

If implemented, a 1.5 cents/ounce tax would be added to the sale of all sugar-sweetened drinks.

Soda taxes are both unpopular and ineffective. In Cook County, Illinois, a 1 cent soda tax - backed by the same group associated with Bloomberg’s soda tax in NY – was so unpopular with residents that it was repealed in under a year. Further, such taxes hurt local businesses without significant revenue increases to show for it. In fact, sales tax hikes in general have historically done little to address state budget shortfalls.

A soda tax, like all other sales taxes, is inherently regressive. Governor Lamont’s tax hike thus would serve to hurt not only local businesses, but Connecticut’s already struggling poorer families, with presumably little to show for it.

Even Bernie Sanders chastized Hillary Clinton for supporting a soda tax, saying:

“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low income and working people."

"Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge."

A 2012 study by Tax Foundation found that the tax burden 1 cent/ounce hike was double that of a high income family for a low income family.

Tax Foundation also reports that soda taxes often fail to accomplish their public health ambitions. If soda becomes too expensive for their liking, consumers may choose to consume another potentially unhealthy drink in its place - studies have shown consumers replacing soda with beer, for example due to such soda taxes.

The facts are clear; the soda tax is unpopular, unfair, and ineffective in meeting both its revenue raising and public health aims. Governor Lamont needs to re-examine his budget priorities instead of levying unfair taxes against Connecticut consumers to pay for exorbitant spending.

Photo Credit: Eleia Samonte


Stalemate in Minnesota Over Tax Hikes in Budget as Legislative Session Winds Down

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019, 2:45 PM PERMALINK

This February, newly-inaugurated Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, laid out his executive budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. Waltz’s budget included $882 million in new spending to be paid for by various tax hikes, notably a 20 cent/gallon hike to the gas tax. Recent polling shows 65% of Minnesotans oppose a gas tax increase.

The Democrat-controlled Minnesota House and Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate are still split on spending plans as we enter the final weeks of this legislative session.

Regarding transportation, the Minnesota House has proposed a $7.28 billion spending increase. This would be paid for by a gas tax hike which mirrors that proposed by Governor Walz – an increase of 20 cents/gallon, or 70% - which would be indexed to inflation annually. They are also calling for an increase to the metro sales tax. Rather than irresponsibly rely on Minnesotans to fund spending increases, the Senate’s proposal rejects these proposed tax hikes.

There is however a Senate bill floating that would make Minnesota's electric vehicle fees the highest in the nation.

The Senate is right in protecting Minnesotans from a gas tax hike. The gas tax – a regressive sales tax – will only serve to hurt Minnesota’s lowest earners the most. Minnesotans have benefited greatly from federal tax reform, and a gas tax hike would serve to undo this success; According to Strategas Research Partners,60% of the federal income tax cut would be wiped out by a gas tax hike. In addition, gas tax hikes have historically done little to address gaps in state transportation budgets, meaning Minnesotans would be shouldering a massive new tax burden with the state government having little to show for it.

Senate Republicans and House Democrats are also in disagreement as to the state’ssick tax on medical providers which is set to sunset at the end of the year. The 2% tax was allowed to sunset in the state’s 2011 shutdown due to an increase influx of federal funding from the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans find no need for the tax to be re-instated as its burden is ultimately transferred to the sick who are actually paying medical bills. Governor Walz and House Democrats have claimed that the elimination of the tax would compromise the health of Minnesotans with little evidence. If Governor Walz and House Democrats were truly concerned about sick Minnesotans, they would support the elimination of a tax which is unfairly transferring them costs.

Interestingly, a bi-partisan Senate bill introduced in March recommends a new fee assessed on insurance claims, instead of providers. 

Minnesota is also on the verge of imposing a tax on pain medication. SF 751 and HF 400 both seek to raise $20 million by imposing a new fee, or raising existing fees on manufacturers and distributors. These fees are in reality taxes, since they raise revenue.

A tax which would serve only to increase costs for all Minnesotans without directly addressing the opioid issue is irresponsible and unfair. Patients would be punished with this tax, and the damage would not stop there. Everyone would pay more due to rising insurance premiums. A recent op-ed by ATR President Grover Norquist explores this disastrous policy further.

Ultimately, Minnesotans should not have to pay for rash spending increases by their state government with a higher tax burden, especially at a time when the North Star State is sitting on a large surplus. Governor Walz and House Democrats should reconsider their priorities and put Minnesotans first. Senate Republicans must continue to push back on hasty tax hikes as the legislative session is drawing to a close to keep their constituents safe.


Ohio Senate Slashes Gas Tax Hike to 6-cents

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Monday, March 25th, 2019, 11:19 AM PERMALINK

After considerable debate, the Ohio Senate passed their version of the state’s two-year transportation budget. The Senate cut the proposed gas tax hike to 6 cents/gallon.

This is lower than the House version which contained a 10.7 cent tax hike, and considerably lower than Governor DeWine’s initial 18 cent/gallon proposal.

Other notable aspects of the Senate Transportation Bill include:

  • An increase to the Ohio Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • $55 million per-year for Ohio’s public transit systems. This is nearly half of the Ohio House’s proposed $100 million, but still higher than Governor DeWine’s $40 million proposal.
  • A two-license plate requirement per-vehicle. The house version of the bill eliminated the front license plate requirement.
  • A re-distribution of fuel tax revenue, with Ohio Department of Transportation receiving 55% and local governments receiving 45%. Currently the distribution is 60/40.
  • A $75 dollar fee for hybrid vehicle owners and a $175 fee for electric vehicle owners.
  • A requirement for gas stations to notify customers of the motor fuel tax rate, the date it was most recently increased, and how Ohio ranks regarding gas tax rates among neighboring states.

 

The Ohio Senate has responsibly mitigated the damage a gas tax hike would cause in Ohio by reducing it to a third of the Governor’s original proposal. Ohio legislators must not lose focus of an offsetting income tax cut, as Senate President Larry Obhof and Senator McColley have suggested.

ATR President Grover Norquist wrote in the Columbus Dispatch Sunday that while the Senate has made great progress, offsetting tax cuts still should be found to avoid increasing the state's overall tax burden.

The General Assembly only has until March 31st to pass a transportation budget, and the Senate’s version now goes to the House who will most likely reject it, beginning a process of the two chambers negotiating the bill’s details. For more information on the Ohio gas tax hike, and to contact your legislators regarding it, please visit Ohioans for Tax Reform.

Photo Credit: Ohio Senate


Threat of Gas Tax Hike Increases in Ohio

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, 4:25 PM PERMALINK

The Ohio state legislature has until April 1st to present Governor Mike DeWine a two-year transportation budget. As this deadline looms closer, a potential gas tax hike seems to be becoming more and more of a reality for the Buckeye State.

In February, Governor Mike DeWine proposed a 64% increase to the Ohio state gas tax to the 133rd General Assembly. His proposal would take Ohio’s gas tax rate from 28 cents/gallon to 46 cents/gallon – a 18 cent increase – and provide for the tax to be indexed to inflation annually.

In early March Ohio House of Representatives introduced and passed its two-year transportation budget bill, HB-62, containing a revised gas tax hike. Under the bill, a 10.7 cent/gallon increase that would be implemented over the course of three years, starting in 2019, with no provision to index the tax to inflation.

The Senate Committee on Transportation, Commerce, and Workforce is now considering amendments to the bill, which should be introduced on the Senate floor by Thursday afternoon. Senate President Larry Obhof and Transportation, Commerce, and Workforce Committee Chair Rob McColley, among others, have expressed skepticism as to the need for a gas tax hike and plan to include an offsetting income tax cut should the hike go forward.

The last time Ohio made a change to its gas tax was 2005. This is for good reason:

  • Gas tax hikes failed to appropriately address budget shortfalls in the past, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and will do so again.
  • The gas tax is regressive, meaning the lowest income citizens bear the greatest burden. With gas tax prices that have been creeping up in Ohio, such a tax hike would have especially adverse effects on the state’s lower income earners.
  • Ohio and Ohioans have reaped the rewards of common sense tax policy and federal tax reform but a gas tax hike works against those benefits. A gas tax hike would serve to eliminate 60% or more of the benefits individuals saw from federal tax reform.

 

Ohioans cannot afford an increased tax burden of any size thanks to a gas tax hike. The Ohio legislature must reject efforts to raise the gas tax or ensure that Ohioans’ tax burdens are not affected by cutting other taxes.

To take action, or for more information on the gas tax and a host of other issues facing Ohio, visit Ohioans for Tax Reform.

Photo Credit: Michael Kappel


Reducing Recidivism with Commonsense Licensing Reform in NJ

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Monday, January 21st, 2019, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

The United States made a big “First STEP” on criminal justice reform, passing landmark legislation in late 2018. There is momentum on these issues, and states should take advantage.

In New Jersey, not only is there asset forfeiture reform on the table, but also legislation that would help former offenders navigate burdensome occupational licensing requirements.

When licensing rules don’t consider whether someone’s conviction is directly related to the profession they’re pursuing, or boards make it hard to figure out whether a conviction is disqualifying, there are unnecessary burdens placed between people leaving prison and jobs.

Perhaps the most important step in becoming a productive member of society is finding a job. It is critical to reducing the likelihood someone will reoffend.
 
New Jersey Senate Bill 1589, originally introduced in 2018 by primary sponsors Troy Singleton and Nia H. Gill, seeks to correct this. The bill, if passed, would set standards for professional and occupational licensing boards in their consideration of candidates with a criminal history.   

Nothing is currently stopping New Jersey licensing boards from revoking, or withholding, licenses from those with criminal histories unrelated to the occupation which they are seeking to enter. Without S1589, the nature and severity of one’s offense, and any evidence of one’s rehabilitation efforts would continue to go unconsidered by licensing boards as well.

S1589 had an important hearing on January 17, 2019 and made it out of the Commerce Committee after nearly a year. The bill was then referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

S1589 would remove some of the most cumbersome barriers for individuals who want to both better themselves and contribute to their communities, while ensuring that where appropriate, a conviction will still rule someone out of a profession.

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures


Chicago Bureaucrats Conjure Netflix & Video Game Tax

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Posted by Mark Detlor on Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 4:05 PM PERMALINK

After raising taxes for the sixth time in seven years, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said, “I want to thank all of Chicago’s taxpayers for doing their part to solve Chicago’s financial problems and usher in a better day.”

That better day has not come, and now Chicagoans who try to escape from taxes, and the cold, with some Netflix or video games are finding the tax burden expanding to their hobbies at the whim of bureaucrats.  

A host of streaming platforms have started to comply with a 9 percent amusement tax that was implemented in 2015.

This 9 percent tax was created by a fiat administrative declaration by Chicago’s Department of Finance, forgoing the hearing process the Chicago City Council has in place.

Unfortunately, the Circuit Court of Cook County upheld Chicago’s imposition of the tax this past May. Despite a pending appeal in the State Appellate Court, companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Xbox Live, PlayStation, and Hulu have started to comply with the tax.

Apple filed a lawsuit against the city in August alleging the tax on its music streaming services was illegal and discriminatory and will not collect the tax in Chicago until the case is decided.

The most vocal opponents of the amusement tax’s expansion to streaming have been the gaming community.

Their concern comes in the wake of PlayStation beginning to collect the additional 9 percent tax on essentially anything purchased through the PlayStation store, and other online services. Microsoft, through its gaming services associated with Xbox (a Microsoft company), has been collecting the tax since last year.

Gamers are understandably upset that Chicago bureaucrats would invent a tax on their fun, while city politicians fail to make a concerted effort to cut spending.

Chicago already has the nation’s third highest combined sales tax rate among cities, coming in at 10.25 percent. Adding a 9 percent tax on top of that to consumers who may have already been deterred from spending money on the town is absurd. The Windy City is turning ‘Netflix and Chill’ to simply ‘Chill’.


CT: Lamont Promises to Raise Taxes, Stefanowski, Over Two Dozen GOP Candidates Pledge to Oppose Tax Hikes

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Posted by Mark Detlor, Hans Schundler on Sunday, November 4th, 2018, 4:44 PM PERMALINK

Democrat candidate for Governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont has tried to downplay all his talk of increasing taxes, but the record is clear, he has said multiple times that he would raise or expand a variety of taxes.

Lamont has generally endorsed tax hikes, when asked in a radio interview, “will you increase taxes?” Lamont responded “yes.”

He’s also said he will approve more tolls hitting Connecticut commuters, he’ll implement an internet sales tax on out-of-state retailers, and increase taxes on the so-called wealthy.

This, despite the fact current Governor Dan Malloy’s massive tax hikes on personal and corporate tax rates, beverages, cigarettes, hotels, rental cars, and more have driven people and businesses out of state. Major employers like General Electric have fled. Connecticut currently has the 3rd worst credit rating in the nation along with the 4th worst unfunded pension liability.

The Republican nominee, Bob Stefanowski has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written promise to the voters of Connecticut that the days of tax hikes will be over if he takes office. His platform calls for tax cuts, and elimination of the state's income tax over time.

Stefanowski is joined by over two dozen other candidates who have pledged to oppose tax hikes in Connecticut this election cycle, including Lt. Governor candidate Joe Markley, and State Senate candidates and incumbents John A. Kissel, Tyler Flanigan, Sen. Len Suzio, Rob Sampson, Sen. Michael McLachlan.

See Ned Lamont's various tax hike commitments below:

Lamont Tax Hike Promises

Date

Proposed Increase

Statement

Source

05/30/18

Expansion of online sales tax

“When asked for examples of possible tax increases, he discussed expanding sales tax to cover more online transactions.”

 

Press conference

 

02/13/18

Electronic tolling

“[R] ight now I don’t see any alternative to some form of electronic tolling. We’ll walk before we run there, but I can’t think of a better alternative.”

 

Interview with The Daily Campus

02/13/18

Electronic tolling and

expansion of online sales tax

“I think A. you can talk about electronic tolling when it comes to transportation, and B. perhaps expanding the sales tax base to include more e-commerce and even services so that we can really have a reliable and predictable revenue stream.”

 

Interview with The Daily Campus

06/22/18

CT sales tax collection by small business online retailers

“’It’s the fair thing to do. They have the big, online retailers from out of state that are taking a lot of our money in sales, competing with companies just like this. They should be collecting that sales tax,’ Lamont said.”

 

Interview with the Middleton Press

05/24/18

General tax increases

“Will you increase taxes?” one of the show’s hosts asked Lamont. When Lamont started to caveat his answer, the host pressed him: “Yes or no.”

 

Lamont’s response? “Yes.”

 

“Will you a sign a bill that would include tolls?” the host then asked.

 

Lamont’s response? “Yes.”

 

Radio interview with Chaz and AJ Show.

 

Audio captured and archived by the Republican Governor’s Association here.

08/23/18

Raise taxes on wealthy

“Even though Lamont wants not to be seen as a second coming of Malloy, he doesn’t promise to govern too differently. He pledges to raise taxes on the wealthy—a message that the state may not welcome, said Yankee Institute fellow Suzanne Bates. ‘Will a tax increase message at all resonate with a population that doesn’t trust you’ll raise taxes on just the wealthy?’ she doubts, adding that anything less than a doubling of wealthy people’s taxes would fall short of filling the budget deficit.”

 

Article in The Weekly Standard

Photo Credit: Wikipedia, CTMirror.org


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