Gov. Ned Lamont told leaders of Connecticut’s suburban and rural towns on Wednesday that the middle-class tax cut he is planning needs to have a lasting, sustainable impact.
Speaking during the 47th annual meeting of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, Lamont said that between his planned middle-class tax cut and steady streams of state bonding commitments for local capital projects, budgeting should become easier for communities in the long run.
Lamont told about 400 people that his goal is a “supportable” tax cut. “What I mean by that is that often in good times we eliminate the tax and in bad times we put it back in,” he said. “I don’t think that helps anybody’s mental well-being and it doesn’t help when you make your plans going forward. You can have rebates, you can have credits, you can have a variety of other ways that we get money back.”
Speaking to reporters after the event, Lamont said he is planning for family income thresholds of $150,000 to $200,000 to get the tax break, which would be phased-in over two years. “I know that’s something that we can afford,” Lamont said in the entrance of The Aqua Turf Club. “You do half of it in the first year and half of it in the second year. If Putin invades another country maybe you hold back.”
Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said that particularly in suburban and rural towns with relatively small grand lists, that just a few families with special needs children can cause big problems for local budgets. “You get one child who’s severely physically and intellectually disabled and it could rip a hole through your entire budget,” Ritter said. “In Connecticut we have done such an awful thing in the way we fund special education costs. It is a morally bankrupt system where if you live on this side of the street it is Plainville’s responsibility, and if you live on this side of the street it’s Farmington’s responsibility.”
Ritter said that any legislation aimed at increasing housing opportunities, especially the kind of affordable housing that state business organization say is a key to economic growth, will have to be a bipartisan effort.
“We have a crisis of need for affordable, accessible and diverse housing in the state of Connecticut,” said state Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, representing Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly of Stratford on the panel. “It’s undeniable. The question is, how do we solve it? And that’s a unique challenge of our state and 169 towns, unique municipalities, to rural areas, to suburbs. The challenge is that one size fits all does not work.”