The COVID-19 crisis has absolutely decimated our economy. And while the auto supply industry was deemed essential by Gov. Ned Lamont, and thus allowed to stay open, we, like many local businesses across the state, were hit hard by COVID-19.

As more and more people across the state become vaccinated, auto and tire mechanics look forward to getting back to normal. We’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received from our customers and look forward to both seeing all our customers again, as well as bringing back employees who were furloughed during the crisis, when workshop doors were either closed or open only for limited times, as well as hiring new employees.

Unfortunately, the governor and the General Assembly are making this comeback a bit harder by proposing legislation that would make it harder for auto mechanics to continue operating. This comes through the form of a proposed health insurance tax that would make it more difficult for auto mechanics and local businesses to provide robust health insurance for their employees.

It begs the question – why would the governor and the General Assembly propose a tax on health care, right in the middle of a pandemic, when hard-working employees need their healthcare the most? Both parties claim that this tax will expand healthcare coverage, but the truth is it will do the exact opposite. Instead, this tax will be levied on the health insurance plans purchased by local business owners for their employees and families. This means that in essence, this tax will operate like a sales tax – passed onto the consumer, and in this case hard-working employees and middle-class families throughout the state. And this additional tax will be added on top of the almost $700 annually that Connecticut residents pay in taxes on their healthcare coverage.

These misguided proposals to tax employee health insurance comes on top of the billions in federal aid that the federal government is sending to Connecticut, including funds to make healthcare more affordable. On top of that it is predicted that the state will close its budget with $800 million left over. This proposed health insurance tax could dissuade business owners from hiring additional staff after this crisis and helping to restore Connecticut’s economy.

The people of Connecticut are excited to get back to their old ways of life again as vaccines are rolled out and more people are inoculated. And as auto and tire mechanics we have a responsibility to the people of our community, helping to keep their cars running smoothly. But Governor Lamont the General Assembly shouldn’t make it even harder for small businesses to re-open and operate. Businesses across our state have been through enough, and the state shouldn’t add another burden on their backs. Instead, legislators must do everything they can to help our businesses thrive. These proposed taxes on health insurance would do the exact opposite and the Governor and General Assembly would be wise to do away with both proposals.

Tony DeSimone is the Executive Director of the New England Tire & Service Association

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