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'Sin' Taxes, Long-Term Solutions In CT Gov's Proposed State Budget

Gov. Ned Lamont of Greenwich
Gov. Ned Lamont of Greenwich Photo Credit: Provided

In his first proposed state budget, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont called for an overhaul of the state’s sales tax system, “sin” taxes and laid out ways to start digging the state out of debt.

On Wednesday , Feb. 20, in the Hall of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol, Lamont discussed his proposed budget, a two-year, $43.1 billion taxing and spending plan.

The budget includes a “sin” tax levy on a variety of products, including alcohol, sugary drinks, plastic bags and vaping products. Single-use plastic bags would come with a 10 cent tax, while wine and liquor will include a 25 cent deposit. Sugary drinks will be taxed by ounce.

“Today, I am presenting you a budget which gives us the best chance to get this state growing again,” Lamont said. “Connecticut has been a jobs laggard for many years, which depresses opportunity and hits our budget every year.

"If we had grown jobs at the same rate as other states, we would be talking about how to invest our surplus or cut taxes. Instead, we are staring down the barrel of a $3.7 billion dollar deficit over the new two-year budget cycle."

Lamont noted that “the fiscal crisis before us is not just a short-term hole in the budget. We are digging that hole deeper by $400 to $500 million annually, due to fixed costs such as pensions, state employee healthcare and bonded debt—all growing faster than our economy. Most of these fixed costs pay for the past rather than investing in our future.”

In total, fixed costs inherited from the past account for approximately a third of Connecticut’s budget, putting lawmakers at a competitive disadvantage. Lamont said he’s hopeful of creating a dialogue with state employees to come up with a more sustainable long-term solution.

“Last month I came before you and told you I am a straight shooter, an honest broker and a good listener – I meant it. The budget I have proposed is far from perfect and I welcome your input. Politics in Washington, DC is a dysfunctional mess.

"Let’s show that here in Connecticut, we can work together on an honest budget, on time, one that gets our state moving again. And when we disagree, don’t go to a microphone, come to my office. Let’s talk. My door is always open.”

Additionally, Lamont proposed two new models for tolling: truck-only or electronic tolling on cars and trucks. He said truck-only tolling could generate $200 million alone.

The governor said that the current budget “keeps faith with our cities, but not at the expense of our towns; maintains our commitment to education and provides additional property tax relief; tackles long-term fixed costs; focuses on a 21st-century workforce, economy and transportation system; and supports businesses and working families.”

“We are going to do this together. A budget, on time, borne of a chilly February afternoon, completed in time to enjoy a warm spring day and in time for our mayors and first selectmen, superintendents, residents and businesses alike to plan for a fresh start. Now let’s get to work.”

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