Not Everyone Is Happy with Governor’s Tax Cuts and Fiscal Restraint
On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont gave his budget address before the General Assembly offering tax cuts for small businesses and middle and working-class families while maintaining the 2017 bipartisan fiscal guardrails.
The tax cuts cost an estimated $550 million and includes reducing the income tax for joint filers earning less than $100,000, lowering the tax rate from 5 percent to 4.5 percent for earnings between $50,000 and $100,000. The proposal also decreases the rate from 3 to 2 percent for the first 20,000 for joint filers. Single filers earning thresholds will be halved if the budget is adopted.
The plan also calls for an increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families and raising the pass-through entity tax credit for small businesses to its original revenue-neutral level of 93.01%.
Additionally, Lamont proposed maintaining the spending, revenue, bonding and volatility cap.
In an email encouraging its members to voice opposition to lawmakers, CCAG stated, “Wall Street may like it when the state restricts spending while swimming in money. But the rest of us who are not millionaires want the state to investing people.” The group wants to see more spending on healthcare, services and increased wages for government employees.
Recovery for All CT, a coalition made up of unions, community groups and the Working Families Party said, “CT is faced with a historic crisis of unmet needs, and we need budget mechanisms that will improve the lives of working families, not hurt the critical programs we all rely on.”
House and Senate Called in for an Emergency Session
Thursday the House and Senate unanimously passed an omnibus bill that will extend free school lunches, extend fiscal guard rails — mentioned above — and sends money to UConn to build a center for sustainable aviation.
The bill was introduced as emergency legislation — or E-cert — so that it can be sent to each chamber without review by committees or public hearings. Lawmakers decided to use the E-cert process so they could not only know how much tax revenue was coming into the state, but how much they could spend during the legislative session.
The bill also made a clarification to the 2021 bottle bill after the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) botched up the rollout. For context, DEEP overstepped — or perhaps disregarded — its legislative authority, enforcing a bottle deposit on hard seltzers, which were initially exempt in the law.
The Green New Steal
The Environment Committee voted to draft an amendment to the State Constitution granting each person in the state, an individual right to “clean and healthy air, water, soil and environment; a stable climate; and self-sustaining ecosystems.”
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Mary Mushinsky (D), will be self-executing which means that once it goes into effect it can be enforced without anything else required legislatively. Environmental lawyers will be seeing green as this will open the public and private sectors to an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits.
The bill conjures up new inalienable rights that are in fact, not inalienable as they are being used to coerce others’ freedoms.
Starting To Think It Really Isn’t About the Environment
The Environment Committee will hear public testimony next Wednesday (Feb. 15) on a bill that mandates new school construction to be net-zero, requiring public schools to perform solar and energy efficiency feasibility studies. If the studies indicate current equipment isn’t providing cost-savings over its lifecycle, school districts must improve the item, thereby forcing them into project labor agreements (PLAs). A PLA essentially requires a construction project to be completed using union labor, rather than non-union companies.
State construction projects are put out to bid to ensure the best price. Requiring a PLA puts the thumb on the scale in favor of big labor. Non-union firms shy away from these projects because they are forced to hire workers from union halls, adhere to union rules or make their own employees dues-paying union members for the length of the project.
A 2020 study from the Beacon Hill Institute in Massachusetts found that PLAs cost Connecticut taxpayers an extra $500 million in school construction costs between 2001-2019. If the intention of the bill is to improve the environment, it would make more sense to remove PLA requirements to allow for more environmentally friendly projects.
Mandating PLA shows lining big labor’s pockets is far more important than the environment.
Unions Want to Deny Easier Access to Occupational Licensing to Vets
Yankee Institute Director of External Affairs, Bryce Chinault testified this week in favor of two bills that will loosen restrictions on occupational licensing in the state.
One will cap the fee that can be charged to receive an occupational license at $100. The other —opposed by labor unions — will allow veterans to obtain an occupational license based on their military training.
Insinuating that military training is not adequate, AFL-CIO President Ed Hawthorne voiced his opposition stating in written testimony that “while we appreciate the intent of this bill, it is important that the strict occupational licensing standards we have in Connecticut remain in place for everyone’s safety.”
According to a 2022 report by the Institute for Justice, Connecticut is ranked as the 15th most burdensome state for licensing in low-income occupations. Of the 102 occupations the report analyzed, Connecticut requires government permission to be employed in 65 of them. Connecticut also has above-average fees and days lost due to various requirements to enter these occupations.