The Cato Institute released its ranking of states based on personal and economic freedom, which placed Connecticut in the bottom ten states in the nation. Connecticut dropped to 45th in the country - one spot lower than the previous 2014 ranking. The Cato Institute performs the ranking every two years and factors in personal freedom - such as marriage laws, drug and alcohol prohibitions, incarceration and gun rights - and state fiscal and regulatory policy.
Connecticut has pledged $300,000 to study the possibility of a mileage tax but, as Representative Gail Lavielle notes, the money is wasted because the state would get the results of the study even if it committed no funds at all. Connecticut is part of the I-95 Corridor Coalition, which consists of 16 states along the Atlantic seaboard. Connecticut would receive the results of the pilot study regardless of its cash contribution because the results are shared with all members of the coalition. In all, eleven states are contributing no funds to the study but will still have access to the findings. “Why Connecticut has to be a leader is beyond me,” Lavielle said in an interview.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is poised to take on a new role: hotel and spa owner. Governor Malloy cancelled a contract with a private investor and directed DEEP to turn the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford into a hotel, spa and public park. Rather than selling the property to Allied Development Group for $8 million for the exact same purpose, the state is trying to spend $21 million - by their own estimate - to turn the property into a viable tourist destination.
Billionaire and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones has left Connecticut and moved to Florida according to a report in Bloomberg News. Jones, the head of Tudor Investment Corp., opened an office in Palm Beach, Florida, and registered to vote there in November 2015. Jones’ 2014 income as a hedge fund manager was listed as $600 million by CNN Money, which would make his annual income tax about $30 million per year. The state of Florida has no income tax.
The General Assembly passed a budget last week that stops driving Connecticut backward. The question is: will we take the next step and start driving forward? Last year, lawmakers passed the second-largest tax increase in state history, just five years after the largest tax increase. This year’s budget, while not good, was at least a temporary rejection of last year’s approach. It remains to be seen whether it was really a change of direction or merely a case of election-year stagefright.
Twenty-five years ago Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker gave a speech explaining how the income tax would fix Connecticut’s problems. He said earlier tax increases had failed because the revenue was “gobbled up in orgies of spending.” Weicker intended the new income tax as the tax increase that would break the mold and actually solve Connecticut’s fiscal challenges. Reading his speech from May 15, 1991, and comparing it to today’s budget woes suggests how far the income tax fell short.