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Capitol Update: Taskforces, IRS deadlines, and bond commission meetings

The Legislative Office Building remains closed with the governor stating that May 20 is the earliest date for deciding when, and if, schools will reopen along with other parts of the Connecticut economy. In terms of addressing this, Governor Lamont has convened an advisory board. The co-chairs of the board are former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi and Yale University epidemiologist Dr. Albert Ko. The panel will consult and collaborate with state legislative leadership regarding the logistics and date to reopen Connecticut’s economy. Governor Lamont stated the reopening will be a phased-in approach, and will include looking at hospitalization numbers, COVID-19 testing, and numbers of infection in the areas of Connecticut.

Yankee Institute is pleased that Governor Lamont took this step by convening a task force/ advisory board on how to re-open Connecticut’s economy as it was an earlier recommendation of the Yankee Institute. We would like to see participation and members of the board from small businesses and different sectors of Connecticut’s economy, including restaurants, retail, finance and others. In addition, we are pleased that Governor Lamont has included some of Yankee Institute’s other policy suggestions for mitigating the economic impact of COPVID-19. They include: a hold-harmless unemployment tax provision for affected businesses as they struggle to remain open through this crisis; the waiving of certain occupational licensing requirements; and increase of the earned income tax credit for lower income working families.

This week the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) extended the filing and payment deadlines of certain tax returns until July 15, 2020. The extensions align Connecticut tax filing and payment dates with the filing and payment extensions recently announced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Further information is available here: https://portal.ct.gov/DRS/Press-Room/Press-Releases/2020/DRS-Extends-Filing-Payment-Deadlines-for-Certain-State-Tax-Returns

Last, but not least, the Bond Commission met successfully this week after a technology snafu canceled the previous meeting in early April. Included on the agenda for the meeting was the good news that cities and towns would finally be receiving the overdue aid, with the Bond Commission voting to issue $136 million in grants to cities and towns. The agenda included more than $700 million for various transportation projects across the state. The meeting was not without some controversy as some in legislative leadership expressed concern that Governor Lamont was punishing legislators who were against tolls after the State Bond Commission failed to finance rail cars for the Danbury and Waterbury lines. The original bond commission agenda $300 million for rail cars to be allotted among Danbury, Hartford, Shoreline East and Waterbury.  The item was amended at the meeting by OPM Secretary McGraw, with the rail cars distributed to Hartford and Shoreline East. The rationale for excluding the cars for the Danbury and Waterbury line was the $300 million would only purchase 60 rail cars, as opposed to the original 72, and Shoreline East and the Hartford lines have the oldest cars and highest need. The commission also approved funds for the work to develop an offshore wind turbine in the New London port.

Stay safe and healthy!

Isabel Blank

Isabel graduated cum laude from the University of Connecticut in 2017 and completed a master’s degree in Public Administration in 2018. A former Yankee intern, Isabel involved herself in politics during her time at UConn and held several internship positions including positions at the ACLU of CT and the Democracy Fund in Washington D.C.

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