Property Taxes

Skyrocketing property taxes are forcing taxpayers out of their homes and driving businesses away – along with jobs.

Communities across the state have said a resounding NO to their local budgets on the first try this year. Finance boards and business managers have been told to go back to the books and start over.

• The primary driver of local budgets is the cost of operating public schools which can account for 70 to 80 percent of municipal budgets.

• Driving the school budgets are unfunded state mandates – requirements that certain programs or policies be in place in each school district, without accompanying methods to fund these programs.

This combination of unfunded mandates and Legislative spending increases has caused a major shift of the tax burden to homeowners and small businesses.

Without curtailing spending the tax burden is simply a shell game, shifting from industry to property owners and small businesses.

• The first step in reversing this trend is to cut back on government spending

• We must also put an end to unfunded mandates.

• We must equalize the Educational Cost Sharing formula so smaller communities are not penalized while big cities get the lion's share of state funding.

The Democratic leadership in the state Legislature has been irresponsible in its attitude toward Connecticut property owners and business community. The means to reverse this reckless abuse of taxpayers and businesses is available to us in the voting booth.

The right choice in November can mean a wholesale change in Hartford next year.

Energy

As I travel the 8th House District energy prices are on everyone's minds whether it is gas prices, heating fuel prices or the cost of electricity to run our homes.

Voters of all political persuasions consistently voice their disappointment in their representatives in both Hartford and Washington. Two years ago they were promised action on record high energy prices, but nothing has been done and prices have continued to climb.

Voters are frustrated with inaction on both the state and federal levels. When asked "Can your paychecks keep pace with these costs," most people resoundingly answer "NO!"

Gas prices are key to virtually all other consumer costs, and our state’s taxes on gasoline only exacerbate an already difficult situation. Connecticut's Legislature double taxes consumers with both a per-gallon tax and a gross receipts tax that increases with the cost of gas.

This double tax is unfair, and the majority of the revenue it generates does not go to the Transportation Fund for highway repairs and mass transit initiatives as intended. Instead, it is diverted into the state’s General Fund.

Although there has been an outcry for relief the Legislature has done nothing.

Heating fuel and electricity prices also continue to increase with additional charges passed on to the consumers by the suppliers.

But what will homeowners do in the winter, when cutting back on heating fuel or electric heat can go only so far before inconvenience becomes dangerous? The cost of heating fuel has quadrupled in only a few years. Not only is this having an impact on people living on fixed incomes, it is similarly impacting people still in the workforce. Paychecks simply can not keep pace with the increasing prices.

While the General Assembly has little influence over national energy policy, I believe that solutions do exist within state jurisdiction to address these issues. We can and should do our part to promote conservation and development of alternative energy sources, within state agencies, businesses and the citizenry.

To combat the disastrous impact of high energy prices on our state's economy and residents, the General Assembly must immediately cut energy taxes across the board. These taxes punish those who can least afford to pay them.

Next, we must permanently fix the way Connecticut taxes gasoline. We must stop double taxation! Our gas tax should be fixed and not based on a formula that allows the state to capitalize on the increasing costs from which people are already suffering.

Finally, all gas tax revenue should be returned to the Transportation Fund. Far too often we are told we are paying taxes for one purpose only to find that the Legislature has decided to spend it elsewhere. To add insult to injury, we become aware of this diversion only when new taxes are levied on us to pay for the originally promised goals. This deception must stop.

While there is no area of more obvious need, there is also no area of greater failure by our representatives than Connecticut’s energy policy. It seems that the only way to correct these continued failures by the General Assembly, is to infuse it with our own "alternative" energy.

Economy

Will the last business to leave Connecticut please turn out the lights? Even though that commentary has been around for a long time, and is meant as a joke, it isn't funny that businesses and jobs are fleeing our state as if chased by a plague.

Companies are leaving because of the cost of energy, ever-increasing taxes, and insurance. Connecticut is now rated third from the bottom on the list of business friendly states. We are losing an entire generation of wage earners in the18-34 age range who have found better opportunities elsewhere.

High school and college graduates alike are finding better paychecks less taxation and lower costs of living out of state. Connecticut Department of Labor reports say the state continues to lose thousands of jobs each year. This cannot continue.

At home after home in towns across the 8th House District, voters are telling me of their frustration with upward spiraling taxes in the face of stagnant or declining incomes, and the Legislature's unwillingness to do anything about them.

A couple told me of their son-in-law who had to uproot his family and take a job in California; a truck driver had to close his own business and go to work for someone else due to rising fuel costs; a local business laid off workers this year for the first time in its 50-year history. Unfortunately these are not isolated stories, they are the norm.

If there is one issue besides the cost of energy that rates the "hot button" label, it is taxes - and property taxes in particular. As more businesses close and jobs are lost, the costs of government fall increasingly on the shoulders of property owners.

In the 1970s and 1980s many towns across the state talked about building small industrial parks to attract businesses that would help keep property taxes in balance. These parks brought business and jobs, accompanied an across-the-board assist for local taxpayers.

But the Legislature eroded that part of the tax base by continually increasing the cost of doing business in Connecticut. That in turn led to the ongoing outward migration of businesses and jobs. Business can not survive in an environment that does not allow it to profit and flourish, and if business can't flourish, jobs can't either.

As the size of Connecticut's business pool continued to shrink, the Legislature was increasing the number of mandates it imposed on towns and cities. Many of these mandates – laws requiring towns to take certain actions or provide services – that usually were expensive, often came without the state funds to pay for them.

It is long past time to take action to rein in government spending, and the accompanying tax increases. Homeowners are strapped by property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and hidden taxes on virtually every facet of our lives.