Opponents parse ‘reduce’ vs. ‘phase out’ in Boughton’s tax ad

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas / CtMirror.org

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton (file photo)

A new Facebook ad from Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton says he would “reduce” the state income tax, prompting two opponents Friday to question whether the Danbury mayor had abandoned his pledge to phase out the tax over a decade.

The Boughton campaign said he remains committed to the goal of phasing out the tax, which produces $9 billion annually, about half of all General Fund revenue. In fact, a spokesman said, Boughton reiterated his position at a public event Thursday.

“Mark has had the same, consistent message throughout the campaign,” Boughton campaign spokesman Pat O’Neill said, adding the candidate has talked about a 10-year phase-out starting with tax reductions worth about $381 million in the first, biennial state budget after the election.  “Nothing has changed.”

Boughton campaign’s new Facebook ad

Boughton, in this advertisement, mentions the income tax reductions he has planned for that initial two-year budget.

“As your governor, I will continue to make our state a more affordable place to live by putting $381 million back in the hands of Connecticut families,” the ad reads, “as well as lowering the tax burden for our residents and businesses.”

The ad does not mention eliminating the income tax entirely, but it is not wholly inconsistent with previous statements: Boughton did identify the $381 million cut as just the first stage in a 10-year plan to phase out the income tax in a campaign policy statement issued on July 16.

The campaigns of Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman, two businessmen seeking elective office for the first time, insisted Boughton was being inconsistent. Stemerman has said that promises by Boughton and Stefanowski to eliminate the income tax cannot be taken seriously.

“Most career politicians abandon their campaign promises after they’re elected. We applaud Mayor Boughton for his honesty, abandoning the central promise of his campaign right before the election instead,” said Albert Eisenberg, a spokesman for Stemerman. “We have long pointed out that this is a phony campaign promise by politicians who will say anything to get elected and particularly from someone like Mark Boughton who actually raised taxes 10 times as Mayor.”

Stefanowski, formerly the chief executive officer of DFC Global, chief financial officer of UBS Investment Bank, and a senior executive at GE, also has said he would eliminate the income tax, but over eight years. He was happy Friday to claim he now was alone in that pledge.

“I am the only candidate in this race who will eliminate the state income tax,” Stefanowski said. “I’ve been consistent on this from day one, unlike any of my opponents. It’s clear that this race is about taxes, and as we head into Tuesday, I am the only candidate that Republicans can trust to eliminate the state income tax, bring jobs back to Connecticut, and reverse the damage Dan Malloy has done over the last eight years.”

Republicans go to the polls Tuesday to select from a crowded field: Boughton, Stefanowski, Stemerman, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Westport tech entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik.

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