“We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.

Abraham Lincoln

The first rule of public office: Your word is your bond. If you break it, you lose the people’s trust.  It is sad to see how far some have strayed from this principle.

When promises are broken people feel betrayed.  No wonder so many people are losing faith in Connecticut.

Connecticut’s economy is in trouble. It has gone from the top in the U.S to the bottom. Hopes for a new day were dashed as promises made to improve the economy and grow jobs were quickly broken. The ruling party’s attack on businesses and residents has them looking for the door, depressing tax revenues and home values.

Toni Boucher

Connecticut’s administration pledged to make government live within its means and balance the budget. When faced with massive state deficits from spiraling employee costs, they employed past practices of more taxes; kicking the can down the road by refinancing debt and guaranteeing platinum level state employee benefits far into the future.

They proclaimed that more taxes would kill our competitive advantage.  Yet, they passed increases to the income tax in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2019 on LLC’s.  Unprecedented numbers of anti-business bills, expensive union contacts and excess spending continue unabated.

To understand how this evolved we need to look at the promises made and what actually happened in two parts.

Part one, today, examines the promise to improve Connecticut’s business climate; not increase the income tax, reduce healthcare costs; install tolls only on trucks and the lock boxing of transportation funds.

Part two, tomorrow, examines the promise to balance the budget; secure union concessions; reform pension and unfunded liabilities and put Connecticut on a “debt diet.”

Promises Made, Promises Broken

The promise to improve Connecticut business climate:

New legislative leaders are hostile to businesses vital to our state, saddling them with massive burdens that hurt their ability to grow. They passed the nation’s highest minimum wage with an automatic 2 percent increase every year thereafter.  Westport estimates that it could cost an extra $300,000 annually for summer student workers.

The ruling party passed the most aggressive 12-week paid family medical leave act (FMLA) in the country on businesses with one or more employees, paid for by a .5 percent payroll tax for workers making up to $130,000 per year. State unions are exempt. The state has the option of increasing the wage deduction if this government-run program runs out of money. Paid time off could be used for a family member or those “like” family.  Employees will be forced to pay even if they already have coverage.

The governor promised to veto the bill saying it was “ill-conceived and simply will not work.”  He reversed his pledge and is now planning to sign it.

The promise not to increase the income tax:

The majority party passed $700 million in new taxes.  A $50 million income tax increase was levied on small business pass-through entities, such as LLC’s, adding to the cost of doing business.  And an additional $150 million in other tax and fee increases was passed.  The majority also passed a new exit tax surcharge of 1 percent on top of 1.25 percent on high priced homes; extended the temporary 10 percent business profit surcharge and rescinded $1 billion in hospital tax relief.

More new taxes include: surcharges on prepared restaurant and grocery food, 10 percent tax on alcoholic beverages, car trade-in fee of $100, taxes on Lift and Uber rides and taxes on plastic bag, parking, digital downloads, dry cleaning, and interior design work.

The promise to reduce health care costs:                          

The Democratic leadership proposed a “public option” state-run healthcare mandate that would institute a $10 per member, per month surcharge on individual health insurance policies and a $5 per member per month surcharge on group health insurance policies.  State employees would be exempt. This state program would be in direct competition with the healthcare insurance industry and put 48,000 private insurance jobs at risk. The public option would damage the private market.  CIGNA said it risks their long-term viability and have threatened to leave the state if enacted. The administration first opposed it and then reversed itself.  The governor now says it deserves support.

Bills to take over private pension and health insurance jobs and bring back tolls failed for now but the administration promises to keep trying. Democratic leaders also failed to pass capital gains and investment income taxes; a statewide property and car tax, sales taxes on legal, accounting, engineering and investment services; allowing parolees to vote; forced regionalized schools; pot legalization; and a proposal to divert teachers pensions payments to towns that would add to the highest- in- the nation property taxes.  These bills, like tolls, could come back to bite us later.

Let’s hope not. Connecticut needs to keep its promises to cut costs and give businesses the confidence to stay and grow jobs.

Toni Boucher is a Connecticut businesswoman and former state senator, state representative, state board of education member, selectman and board of education chair.

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11 Comments

  1. There is something far more important than keeping campaign promises (which most of us don’t believe anyway). What is more important to gain and maintain trust is telling the truth, using facts
    and NOT manipulating with intentional deceit. “It has gone from the top to the bottom.” This is a lie and leaders don’t lie

    Here are three articles that put Connecticut about in the middle.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/connecticut

    https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-economies/21697/

    https://www.businessinsider.com/state-economy-ranking-q1-2018-2#22-connecticut-30

    The rest of Boucher’s article pushes nothing more than GOP talking points that put business profits and wealth accumulation for the few as the priority over people’s economic security, dignity and well-being. The GOP federal tax cuts were supposed to go to workers. Where did the money go: Into profits and so executive and shareholder wealth. It was wealth extraction from the broader economy to serve the rich.

    We own a business and welcome paying taxes: They are shared financial resources for education, infrastructure, public safety, etc. so that business can operate effectively. Businesses SHOULD pay more. Without these things, they would not have employees who serve customers. Employees are the ones who GROW the business. And with more money for discretionary spending the entire economy grows.

    The CT GOP strategy is to follow along in silent complicity and imitate DJT: Truth is what they say it is, calling truth a lie and lies the truth.

    When Republicans stand for and tell the truth with honesty, morality, ethics, and integrity that support the tenets of the US Constitution of equality, equity, shared power, justice, and dignity and well-being for ALL, maybe then we will pay attention and listen.

    1. Spoken like a true socialist!. Big government didn’t make this country what it is. It is and was the individual who had an idea, developed it, risked everything they had, worked hard and sometimes failed. But they never gave up. Eventually with hard work and devotion to their dream they built something. They employed others. Added to the pie of commerce. And Democrats want to take that away to pay for votes to stay in power. Socialism has NEVER worked where ever it has been tried. Capitalism isn’t perfect but it has produced the best results in ALL of history. If you don’t believe me, read about the Pilgrims first year here, Then read about their second year. First year it was all communal and people starved. The next year was private owner capitalism and they thrived. Learn from history or be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

      1. Fact check: government had a role in funding or supporting many technologies and industries including transportation, mining, electricity, telecommunications, computers, and the Internet.

      2. Never said there wasn’t a role for government. All I said was government didn’t make this country great. Individuals did. Government supports projects when it’s in their interest to do so, i.e. they get something out of it. But government produces nothing on its own, that is a fact. Even roads payed for by government aren’t made by the government. Contractors do it with machines made by individuals who engineered and built them. The paving material comes from private companies that developed and then marketed the product. Government is only buying these developments with our money for the benefit of all of us. Nothing more.

      3. I can’t disagree with your fact check, but the bigger point is the massive growth of an unsustainable Federal and state Government. Governments do not create jobs or wealth; they merely collect and redistribute/retain private sector wealth (with the exception of creation of debt by the Federal Reserve). What is debatable is how much of this wealth can be retained/redistributed by the Government. With $22T in Federal debt, $100T in unfunded Federal entitlement promises, and upwards of $100B in Connecticut state employee liabilities, we are headed to a very bad place when these bills come due.

        I wish you had the same vigor in challenging the views of those on the left but I doubt this is possible. This state is circling the fiscal drain and our leaders need to be called to account for the reckless taxation and spending in every recent budget cycle. While a two party mess in the making, for the last 8+ years this disaster has been owned by Democrats who are making matters worse.

      4. Adding to the CT Mirror Fact Check:

        These subsidies and grants that benefit individuals and businesses are “socialism (shared resources) and the US government gives huge subsidies to fossil fuel companies out of our tax dollars.

        “According to a new International Monetary Fund report, the world collectively spends about $5.2 trillion in subsidies each year, with the U.S.accounting for well over $650 billion of that.

        As Forbes notes, that subsidy cash is way more than the U.S. federal government spends on its (wildly bloated) defense budget and ten times the amount allocated for education. At what point can we say our priorities are completely out of whack?”

        https://www.care2.com/causes/youll-be-shocked-to-learn-how-much-we-spend-on-fossil-fuel-subsidies.html

        The GOP game is to privatize everything and turn them into profit centers for their cronies that will cost us more than what we pay in taxes with lower quality and no oversight. It’s called toxic, predatory capitalism (AKA the “free market”).

        Socialism is the scare word that is hurled at every advance and progress we have made as human beings for a society that uses shared financial resources to benefit everyone. It is the maturity of two-year-olds to avoid taxes saying, “It’s mine!”, as privileged entitlement.

        Democratic socialism, “social democracy, has arguably been the single most successful modern ideology or political movement. Stable European democracies arose after World War II because a social consensus married relatively free markets and private ownership of the means of production with expanded welfare
        states, progressive taxation and other forms of government intervention
        in the economy and society.”

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-socialism/2019/03/01/692e1d84-3b73-11e9-b786-d6abcbcd212a_story.html

      5. Then you are willing to doom your descendants to poverty and oppression. They will be serfs of a corrupt government just like in the Soviet Union and Communist China. Socialism turns back the clock on society, not advances it. We either learn our lessons from history or repeat the mistakes. You choose to repeat.

      6. Are people still using socialism as a threat to capitalism? Or a word to be feared for all of its evil connotations? Seriously? Taxpayer dollars pay for the roads and bridges to be built by private companies. It doesn’t matter if the individual driving on said roads and bridges paid those taxes because the road work and bridge work was paid for by taxpayers for the good of everyone. Socialism in action. Social security is all of us workers paying into the system so that retirees today won’t become poverty stricken or starve to death, which is socialism. Ever take a library book out of the library and enjoy reading it? How much did that cost you? $0 because the library is funded to provide free books to people, for the greater good, which is another example of…you guessed it, socialism.

        Now if you want to call the current state of affairs under capitalism a success, what measuring stick are you using? Have you seen the income gap data recently? Unless you are part of the 1% owning 40% of the wealth, you are getting hosed under capitalism sir. Average CEO pay is 271 times the average worker’s pay. Does that seem like a success? It’s not in my world!

        Honestly not sure what to say about the Pilgrim example…

      7. And businesses don’t pay taxes for infrastructure? You bet they do, they pay more than the average citizen. In some places the infrastructure wouldn’t be there without the business setting up shop.

        And let’s talk social security, ponsi scheme if ever there was one. And look what the government did with it, use it as its own piggy bank. Socialism at its finest

        Capitalism brought you energy, via John D. Rockefeller. The railroad system by Vanderbilt.And on and on. Individuals built this country. And they used capitalism to do it. Socialism stymies individualism and unique ideas. That is why China and Russia has to steal our intellectual properties.

        As for the Pilgrims, you don’t know what to say because you don’t know about them. You only know what others have said, not what Bradford wrote.

      8. Here’s what I love. You make a statement, I make counter statement, and then instead of directly responding to my proposition, you go askew. Despite this, I think you are agreeing that we have many socialist systems in place that do good, albeit through a ponsi scheme in some cases. By the way, do you plan to reject the SS check you will eventually be eligible for in protest of the ponsi scheme?

        Second, did you provide your examples of Rockefeller and Vanderbilt in support of the system being broken? Today it’s the Bezos’ and Koch’s who make billions on the backs of working men and women, but they are no different than the “captains of industry” of the previous centuries. They learned how to play within the system and used massive government subsidies, some blatant, others more subtle, to make their wealth. Interestingly, Rockefeller was known to have been a man who cared deeply about giving back, some would say the father of philanthropy, giving back fro the common good. And although you didn’t mention Carnegie, his library endowments opened the world of education and reading to millions, for the common good.

        Alas the Pilgrims. No, I know plenty about the blood thirsty savages of the early1600’s. No, not the Indians, the Pilgrims. My point was applying the principle of capitalism, which really got it’s start in the early 17th century, is obtuse and frankly strange, which made it hard to respond to. I assume you realize the first Thanksgiving wasn’t a joyous feast where the Native Americans shared a meal with the land grabbers from England.

        The reality is we probably have moire in common than you think. Big business, capitalists if you will, learned a long time ago if they can get us to be fighting among ourselves, we won’t be as likely to turn our attention on the huge inequities our capitalist system have created. I don’t know about you, but I’m a solid part of the 99% by birth, don’t expect i will ever be anything but 99%, but that doesn’t stop me from speaking truth to power.

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