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Op Ed: Bad Ideas

Connecticut is no stranger to migratory woes, as retirees and wealthier residents flee to greener, sunnier pastures, and newcomers arrive at rates well below the national average.

Water is wet, after all. The state recently ranked 47th in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, and it has one of the highest property taxes in the nation. Still, Connecticut isn’t exactly in the financial doldrums considering its projected $3 billion surplus and cushy $3.3 billion “rainy-day fund.”

Nevertheless, since the legislative session began on January 4, Democratic lawmakers have indulged in a legislative spree, devising a host of new ways to transform the Constitution State into a progressive paradise. Lawmakers have proposed increasing the corporation-business tax from 7.5 to 11.5 percent — just for starters. They’ve also introduced multiple bills seeking to establish new statewide property taxes: one with a 2-mills charge rate on commercial and residential real property valued at more than $1.5 million, and another that would raise the rate to 3 mills. Yet another proposes increasing the uniform assessment rate for property tax from 70 to 75 percent of “present true and actual value.”

To make matters worse for property owners — or any law-abiding citizen — it seems like the only people the state wants to hire are additional “tax enforcement agents” at the Department of Revenue Services. This is the state version of the Internal Revenue Service’s hiring more auditors to sniff out transactions in excess of $600 on the national level.

For context, Connecticut has suffered a net loss of more than $12 billion in adjusted gross income between 2012 and 2018 because of out-migration, according to IRS data. The idea of taxing businesses or, reportedly, going after more-affluent residents so that they pay their “fair share” has reduced not only job creation in the state but also its revenue.

The fountain of truly awful ideas doesn’t stop flowing there.

Legislators also introduced a bill that would “prohibit eligibility for tax-exempt status any organization that foments hatred . . . motivated in whole or in part by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.” Although the cause sounds worthy at face value, the language is overbroad and seems destined to create confusion about what will constitute a “hate group.” For example, would the Catholic Church, or any religious sect, be deemed hateful if it doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage? If the continued legal onslaught against Jack Phillips — the Christian baker in Colorado — is any indication, then Connecticut’s more faithful residents may be targeted for fiscal retribution by the progressives.

Then there is the vaccine. Democratic state representative Kevin Ryan introduced legislation allowing children twelve years or older to receive a vaccination without the consent of a parent or guardian. It appears Connecticut progressives are aligned with their national counterparts in aiming to drive a wedge between parents and their children. They are perfectly content to allow tweens — who can’t take aspirin without parental consent — to make their own choices about vaccines, unbeknownst to those who love them most.

Other troubling proposals on the table include instituting early and/or ranked-choice voting and voting rights for illegal immigrants and prisoners; creating a bill of rights for tenantscapping rent increases; and “encouraging” school districts with fewer than 25,000 residents to regionalize or else face the state’s penalizing the town by “reduc[ing] the reimbursement percentage [it] may receive for a school building project grant by twenty points.”

Although these bills may not all pass, they certainly indicate the direction in which the ideological wind is blowing — and highlight the legislative majority’s general disdain for its tax-paying residents. Nutmeggers can’t all have the resolve of The Crucible’s Giles Corey who — when tortured by stone-pressing to confess to witchcraft — defiantly quipped “more weight.”

If they’re not nipped in the bud, these proposals may eventually become reality. Progressive legislators may want to encourage businesses and families to stay in the state, but their ideas are recipes for repulsion. In fact, they might as well hand Connecticut residents a map to Florida and get the exodus over with.

This article originally appeared in National Review.

Andrew Fowler

Andrew Fowler joined Yankee Institute in July 2022 after four years in the communications department for the Knights of Columbus international headquarters in New Haven. In that span, he managed the organization’s social media accounts and wrote for the company’s various publications, including COLUMBIA magazine, which is delivered to nearly two million members. Additionally, he is the curator of the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center’s online exhibit “K of C Baseball: An American Story,” that explores the intricate ties between the organization and the growth of the national pastime. He was also a production assistant for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the 2016 Dinesh D’Souza film, “Hillary’s America.” Andrew currently serves on the Milford Board of Education. He is an avid runner and basketball fan, cinephile, and an aspiring musician and author. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015.

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