Wednesday, February 08, 2006

State of the State II

We've already had a pretty thorough discussion about the governor's signature proposal for the upcoming session-the elimination of municipal property taxes paid on cars. I still think it's a good idea, and I hope the legislature considers it with an open mind.

That said, let's look at some of the other big proposals:

Department of Business and Employment

Ah, a new department, risen from the ashes of Peter Ellef's DECD. The big question is whether or not it will actually be functional. The DECD wasn't.

Business Tax Credits

Rell proposed two new business tax credits:

The first is the Job Creation Tax Credit. A company that creates 50 or more new jobs will be eligible for a tax credit based on the estimated withholding tax paid by the new employees. This provides an incentive to create jobs and ties it to a new source of revenue for the state.

The other is the Displaced Worker Tax Credit. A company will be able to take a credit against their corporate tax for hiring laid-off workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The skilled workers at Stop & Shop, U.S. Repeating Arms and Electric Boat, among others, deserve our best efforts to help them find new, well-paying jobs right here in Connecticut.

I usually don't like tax giveaways to corporations. It often feels like we're in a bidding war with other states to see how low we can make our taxes for corporations. It's a war a high-service state like CT can't win. However, these credits are directly tied to hiring practices, and make it easier for companies to hire more workers. This is good. If we're going to give companies tax breaks, let's do it right.

Estate Tax Elimination

Gov. Rell would also like to rid us of the estate tax:

I am seeking an immediate elimination of the so-called cliffs and a doubling of the amount of an estate that is exempt from the estate tax. I am proposing that the estate tax be phased [out] completely.

The state raked in over $130 million from the estate tax last year. 5% of an estate seems to go to the state.

I have no problem with that. I don't quite buy the line that we're driving rich people away, and that's a ton of revenue to give up. How is she going to pay for her big-ticket tax cuts and transportation plan if that revunue is lost? It should stay. Common sense.

Utility Tax Cut

While we're cutting taxes...

To help consumers, I am proposing a 25% across-the-board cut in the state’s public utilities tax beginning this July. This change will lower everyone’s electric and gas bills, saving businesses and consumers an estimated $45 million next fiscal year.

Everyone was a little stunned by the huge CL&P rate increase this year, so this seems like a way to calm everyone down.

I know it's a popular tax cut for an election year, but... how are we going to pay for it?

Department of Energy

A new Department of Energy would develop a state-wide energy policy, conduct market analysis, promote energy efficiency and new technologies, participate in proceedings before federal agencies and act as a liaison between state and local governments.

I'm ambivalent about this new department. I could see how it might come up with some innovative solutions, but then again... it could just sit there.

The Surplus

I am committed to retiring state debt and increasing our Rainy Day Fund. To that end, I am dedicating $85.5 million of the surplus to pre-funding two outstanding debt payments payable in 2008 and 2009.

Further, I am proposing that $335 million of the surplus be deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. This represents the largest single deposit ever made and will provide us with a highest-ever balance of $940 million.

I like the idea of socking away a good portion of this money into the Rainy Day Fund (instead of, say, sending out $50 refund checks like Rowland did in 1998) and paying down the debt. What about the state teachers' retirement fund? This is a pressing obligation that should be dealt with--not ignored.


As part of my budget initiative, I am proposing to build on last year’s progress by adding another $344 million in additional transportation improvements over the next several years.

My commitment includes: Commuter Rail Service between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, including connections between the rail lines and Bradley International Airport; $50 million for the 9.4 mile New Britain Busway that will serve twelve stations in New Britain, Newington, West Hartford and Hartford; rail station and parking improvements on the New Haven Line and Shore Line East; facility and service improvements on the New Haven Line’s Danbury, New Canaan and Waterbury branch lines; rehabilitation of forty locomotive pulled passenger coaches used on the branch lines; and improved transit connections between rail stations and employment centers.

Good. Fine. What, no Route 11? Oh, well. We should just rename the unfinished part of that corridor the Thomas J. Meskill Memorial Hiking Trail and Wilderness Preserve, for all the pavement it will ever see.


There's a lot to like here, but not too much that's particularly new or surprising (save the elimination of the car tax). I'm a bit concerned with how we're going to pay for a lot of Rell's tax cuts or credits. There was, as Dan Malloy noted, no mention of health care, although the governor has proposed a modest increase for nursing homes.

The big fight this year, then, will be over taxes. We saw that few of the governor's party stood with her on campaign finance reform. This year, they will doubtless all stand with her on her tax proposals. The Democrats could be fractured enough to pass a signifant portion of them, including the elimination of the car tax.

Rell gave a strong speech, and has placed herself in even better position for the campaign season. We'll see how much actually gets done by May.

Two polls about the State of the State will be up shortly. Vote!

Text of speech

Proposed Midterm Budget Adjustments


Anonymous said...

More on the tax proposals.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Rell would propose eliminating the Estate Tax after pretty much agreeing to it last session.

It's obvious that she's having trouble fundraising in lower Fairfield County this quarter, and this is an attempt to get the keys to the Greenwich Roundtable.

Her level of resolve on seeing these issues through the session will have a direct correlation to her ability to raise $$ from traditional GOP sources that are presently shut off to her.

DeanFan84 said...


Will you post the results from the Lieberman/Lamont polls?

It is stunning that this very moderate audience preferred Lamont almost 3:1 over Joe. I guess that's how it is among those of us paying attention.

Independent1 said...

I've spent a little time looking at the budget address and related links, and heard quite a bit of the post-speach talks by the General Assembly leadership(?). All I heard from Williams was 'it's good, but it's not comprehensive enough, big enough, expensive enough ...we need to do more.' Amann keeps repeating 'shell game'. For a mid-two-year budget adjustment, it seems ok. They don't like the 'property tax reform' because it gives the $$ back to the individual taxpayer rather than the municipalities. (Williams keeps saying "Is this real property tax reform?" I can tell you, everyone who has a car, and writes that check will think it's real!

Anonymous said...


This might be a question for you. I've been shooting around, trying to find what I thought was a pretty straight forward question. But, no luck. Here's the question: What is the the aggregate total operating budget (non-capital expenditures) of the Connecticut municipalities? From that, I was trying to figure out inter-governmental transfers, to arrive at exactly how much money is raised by local (municipal based) property taxes. I suppose (hope?) somewhere in CT government, those types of numbers are available, but I haven't been able to find them. At least in my non-scientific survey of myself, my car tax (a two year old car and a 6 year old SUV) works out to be about 15% of my house tax. It'd be neat to be able to break down by town how much this proposal will save the taxpayers of the town.

Genghis Conn said...

I think I may have what you're looking for, Anonymous. Let me know if this isn't it:

Genghis Conn said...

The results of those extremely unscientific polls were:

If the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator were held today, which candidate would you vote for?

Joe Lieberman 21% (76 votes)
Ned Lamont 66% (239 votes)
Neither 1% (4 votes)
Hey! I'm not a Democrat! 11% (41 votes)

If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, for whom would you vote?

Joe Lieberman 25% (65 votes)
Ned Lamont 61% (155 votes)
A Republican Candidate 11% (27 votes)
None of the Above 3% (8 votes)

...Remember, these polls are nothing close to scientific, and are just for fun. Poor Joe, though.

Anonymous said...

Who is trying to give Senator Cappiello credit for the Governors property tax proposal? Gimme a break! Only his aid,wife or he himself would be foolish enough to attempt to do so. Cappiello? He's way out of his league and doesn't warrant discussion. Sorry David, district Senator is as far as you go!

Independent1 said...


I had seen that link and the CREC site. It gives municipal profiles and links to OPM, but not the data. I didn't mean to just throw this on you, but I figured, as someone who has shown an ability to dig through the clutter you might have a quick link. I suppose the hard part is to aggregate the data, but SOMEONE in government must have it. I'll keep looking.

BTW, I meant to post as myself, but hit the Anonymous line too fast.

Anonymous said...

I was at the SOTS speech today.

Couldn't see DeStefano from where I was, but Malloy was in site.
He needed CPR -- he turned ghost white... ok, maybe an overstatment.. but he was clearly not happy at Rell's auto tax proposal.

She wins either way. If the plan doesn't go through, Joe Six-Pack will appreciate her effort. If it does pass, she scores big.

Most don't understand the tax credit - it is somewhat hidden. Everyone who pays a car tax (or two) does it by writing a seperate check. Come July 1st, if they have to write a check to their tax collector, they'll remember Rell's proposal.

If they can't register their car because they owe, they will be really P.O.'d.

(I'd like to know the other savings to municipalities by elinating this tax -- printing and mailing thousand's of car tax bills, supplemental bills, assessor's taking questions on car's worth, handling the checks, etc)

There's certainly no doubt the Dems will continue to control both chambers next January. That being said, I'd hate to be a Dem legislator and have to defend a vote against eliminating the car tax!

I think I posted in wrong place earlier, sorry if you've seen this before...

Anonymous said...

Oh don't get too down on Cappiello. I think people are just trying to figure out who is advising Rell now. All of a sudden she's a Republican? What are these things called "tax cuts?" What happened to the civil union loving, campaign finance reforming Governor we knew? Next thing you know she may acutally appoint a male to something.

Anonymous said...

"Next thing you know she may acutally appoint a male to something." My God, she might actually recognize that 50%+ of this great state are WOMEN!

Anonymous said...

Didn't mean to offend your feminine sensibilities...just making a point. more power to you.

Great Santini said...

I just hope this isn't another one of those great state programs that's supposed to help business and it gets staffed by a bunch of political hacks who have degrees in political science and history and never worked in the private sector. Just what CT business people need to hear - I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. Just fill out these 25 forms, get them notarized, get five signatures on each, . . . .

Anonymous said...

No offense taken. I think the blogosphere is pretty male dominated. Must be the technophobe female persona out there. It may be why a lot of the posters out there just don't get it. You don't have to have a college degree to understand how to run a household, a business, or a life. Rell doesn't overreach, over-promise, or under-treat the intelligence of the public. People get the idea of eliminating the car tax; they figure if you're going to 'fix' it, someone else has the fix in. Kill it, and I'll adjust my budget accordingly.

I don't know how JDS or DM are going to have any luck moving women away from Rell.

Anonymous said...

GC: I thought the casino dollars were already supposed to have been going toward funding the ECS grants. It's not like those dollars are just sitting around waiting to be spent. So how are we going to be able to fund the municipalities at 100% collection? I'm assuming the Guv checked these numbers with OPM before putting them into the speech, but even with eliminating the property tax credit I'm stymied by where the dollars are now. But I support it 100%.

sanity said...

anonymous - no one is trying to give Cappiello credit for the governor's specific proposal. As you pointed out in your comment at 3:42 PM today, the general idea is not original and Cappiello has been among others to have previously raised the idea.

And I did not say he is destined to be at the top of Republican party leadership and, yes, it remains to be seen if he'll be anything more than a district Senator. I said he was a dedicated legislator and a good young Republican. And by saying the Republican party should pay more attention to him, I meant the party should not treat him as the non-entity that they do. Had the Republican Party let him, he could have helped us gain one more Republican seat in the State Senate.

Independent1 said...

Just like the Lotto was going to go to education. All of the taxes basically go into the general fund, then the GA gets to decide where it goes. It was no coincidence that while Sullivan was President Pro Tem of the Senate, West Hartford did markedly better than its wealth ranking should have entitled it to. So taking the 'Pequot' money, is really just re-allocating general fund dollars to the property tax relief of eliminating the car tax.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to get off topic, but does anyone see a downside to Lamont hiring the staff of CCAG? I mean, Ned's certainly going after the libs -but Swan's not exactly a strategist, nor does he have a track record of winning at the grassroots (plus his protege Sherwood lost a New Britain race that should have been a layup) least not without a union. And I'm not convinced unions will jump ship on Joe.

Anonymous said...

Cappiello is NOT a player. Let's move on and not waste time discussing him.

ctkeith said...

Anon 11:15,

Swan was The Campaign manager Of Ed Meyer in 04.You Know ,The State Senator who Cleaned the clock Of 14 yr incumbent Senator Bill Aniskovich.

Did you forget that or just think making shit up was fun?

Anonymous said...

ct keith: Ummm...let's not forget that Roy Occhiogrosso was on that race, and I don't think he was there just to stuff envelopes. Aniskovich did more for Meyer than anyone else, by running for governor two years too early. And even granting that Tom was the CM of Meyer, my question was more geared toward the signal Lamont is sending to a broader audience by having a CCAG stocked staff. Still waiting....(btw..keep it clean, man)

ctkeith said...


Show me one link that even suggsets that Roy Occhiogrosso was in anyway involved in the Ed Meyer Campaign.
I was ,and spent more time with Sen. Meyer than most and never heard him mentioned.

Joe said...

On the car tax subject for a second: the biggest problem I foresee is that the state gov't tends to have a problem with underfunding its legally mandated commitments (take for instance the PILOT payments, which are underfunded substantially below where the law says they should be). I have no doubt that in year 1 of a car tax switcheroo funding would be 100%... but history suggests this 100% would get shaved down (to say 70%) after a few tough budget seasons. In the long run, I’m worried that municipalities would lose out on a revenue stream they at least have a degree of control over in the current system.

Anonymous said...

Jodi has learned well. Remember when Barbara Kennelly ran against J.R.? He just moved to the center and took away all her issues. Soon after, Democrats folded their tents. Same thing is happening here as Democrats are all ready one by one quietly selling out DeStefano and Malloy by vowing their allegiance to Jodi. As Yogi would say,its déjà Vu all over again. Yes, this will be a cake walk.

Anonymous said...

After the job the press did on Aniskovich, and his bizarre decsion to vacation in Paris within weeks of the election, Elmer Fudd could have managed Meyers' campaign

RE; the car tax. Call me a skeptical R. The car tax phase out in VA led to serious agita with local governemnts upset about revenue loss. I think taxing Beemers has less flight risk to the state economy than taxing estates (Yes, GC, accountants do tell rich people to start filing in the state with their vacation home). And there's a "moral hazard" to having a large humber of folks who rent (no house tax) and don;t make high enough income to file a state return not having to pay any out of pocket taxes to the state or city. At least the car tax made them aware government costs money.

Genghis Conn said...

I think Joe brings up an interesting point about lost revenue to municipalities. Unfortunately, I can see just that sort of scenario happening.

Anonymous said...

Sanity- what state Senate seat would Cappiello have won for the Republicans?

ctkeith said...


Guess you couldn't find that link,huh?

Just so you know,I was the Democrats endorsed candidate for six weeks in the Aniskovich race.Everything you've writen in this entire thread about the Ed Meyer Campaign and Swan is a Lie.

If you want to lie I suggest sticking to Republican Blogs.I know most don't allow comments but with a little work I'm sure you'll find one that does.

sanity said...

anonymous - Actually it was two seats. I'm not saying Cappiello would have single-handedly delivered the two seats, but he was one voice among several that were ignored by the party when they said we needed to focus on these two seats because they were winnable. The two seats were Calopietro's and Finch's.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who's feeding you that garbage but you can ask Finch and Colapietro themselves whether their opponents were ignored. State Republicans spent considerable money and staff in these races. If not for Kerry we would've lost one of them for sure.

sanity said...

I thought you said you didn’t want to waste your time discussing a “NON player” such as Capiello. I chose to focus on Capiello in my comment because someone brought his name up and I happen to know something about the guy. The rank and file deserves credit once in a while, even if they aren’t destined to be the future leadership. Every Republican seat counts and every Republican vote on the floor is important, even Kissel’s. We are a minority party in the legislature. So, until we gain the majority, if ever, I won’t consider any Republican caucus-member a non-entity. Unless and until a better and more electable Republican is found to fill that seat we need all the ideas we can get.

The efforts of the party leadership have not been as effective as they should be. All I meant by saying that they should listen to Republicans like Capiello more was that the leadership needs to be more inclusive of the rank and file and our younger party members. Again, I chose Capiello as an example, not because I think he specifically can lead the party or is a future party leader, but because someone brought up his name. There are others I just as easily could have used as an example, but his name came up in discussion. The rank and file can, on occasion, provide valuable insight and ideas for the party and the leadership needs to be open to that.

I am frustrated with the Republican Party in this state. We spend our party money poorly on campaigns and in day to day administration. I am frustrated that we continue to lose seats to the Democrats…, seats that we shouldn’t be losing. The party leadership is not doing as good a job as they could. One thing I have to give the Democrats credit for is they know how to organize and run coordinated campaigns. They do a far better job campaigning than the Republicans do in this state. Calopietro and Finch are weak. Any opponent is a challenge for them. We should have won those two seats. Then again, I am surprised we were able to keep Kissel’s seat.

I think there are a lot of things you and I agree on, but this, apparently, will not be one of them. And I am sure you will want the last word on this. Fair enough then.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

couple of things, ctkeith, anyone with political sense knows that the best person ed meyer had working for him was jodi rell. she didnt want aniskovich around and was very influential behind the scenes in supressing support. ed meyer is a great guy but dont fool yourself into thinking there werent other things at work. also, deanfan and genghis, i think it would be fair to mention that there are lots of daily kos people who come to this site who may or may have not voted in the poll which was cited. i wonder if qpac is going to poll lamont/lieberman soon. i think it would be close.

Anonymous said...

I don't get how you can say that. Have you checked the party reg. in either district. Not to mention that money and incumbency is quite an advantage. Bill didn't sit home and do nothing. He was born in Trumbull, lives in Bridgeport. He's got a pretty good handle on the district. Its equivalent to saying that we should've beaten Freedman because she's "weak." Until a republican can break his stranglehold in Bpt. (and Russo wasn't a bad choice), then Bill isn't weak. As far as Colapietro goes, he was caught asleep at the switch. Its says more about his opponents inability to connect then it does the republican leadership's inability to get her elected because she couldn't get herself elected. And, for the record, there is plenty of young leadership in the senate ie. Fasano, McKinney, Roraback, Cappiello and this from a Dem. McKinney will probably be LG with Rell. What are republicans in a liberal blue state (and their old leadership- i'm assuming thats a shot a Deluca, lol) expected to do? And why am i defending republicans?

DeanFan84 said...


You think it would be close in a Q polling of Lamont/Lieberman? I doubt it. These polls measure name recognition more than anything.

I'd like to see a poll in which they screened out those who haven't been paying attention. You could start with the question, "Have you heard of Ned Lamont?", or "Do you know that Joe has a primary opponent?, or even, "Did you vote in the last Democratic primary?"...

Then you would get relevant data.

Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, you can't poll like that bc when one goes to vote they dont get quizzed on current events. the only threshold you have to pass in order to vote, is to be registered. its the job of the candiadates to handle the rest.

Bristopol said...

Anon (11:21)...Both of those districts began as targeted races by the Senate R's, but because (at least in Bristol) they decided to keep their own counsel on some decisions and not follow the "wisdom" of the Senate R's directives, the faucet was shut off mid-fall. Can anyone recall the last time the Krivda-Repub's won a race?

Anonymous said...

Wow, It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who "Bristopol" is... but i'll bite. And the last time, was a guy by the name of Len Fasano or don't YOU give Krivda credit for that one either. How coincidental this string of comments has become. Why don't you run if you have it all figured out?

Anonymous said...

As a member of your opposite party, I would hope you wouldn't mistake me for one of your own. Don't delude yourself that the SRO dirty laundry doesn't make it's way beyond your doors. Senate R's sold Bobroske out and the rest of us thank you for it. But if you'd like to consider attacking R's, please's served you so well thus far!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:06 or "BristoPol". Shouldn't it be "BristolPol"? Thats been bugging me. Poor attempt at misdirection but thanks for playing. You both seem very angry. BTW.. who cares about the "SRO Dirty Laundry"? I stand by my 1:47 comments. Tom and Bill aren't weak candidates in weak districts. And if Colapietro was so weak.. I would think Hamzy would jump at the chance.

Bristopol/Anon said...

I'm sure Hamzy would...if you'd look at CFIS (when it works) you'd see that he has an exploratory open (or at least he did the last time I checked). I wish he would run--but don't get on the case of a guy who is solid as a rock. There are plenty of limp noodles in both caucuses to go after. But he's not stupid, he enjoys his job and doesn't want to piss into the wind if he can help it. I can understand that. If I were him I wouldn't waste my powder unless I was ready, and he's young enough to wait for his time. Besides, it's not like he's been hiding under a rock--he was state chairman for a moment. I apologize for the mixup in names...obviously i wasn't trying to hide, but when your into your post, you just want it out there.

Anonymous said...

Look, Sanity said that Colapietro's seat was winnable.. I was debating that, quite frankly i don't know where you came from and where he went. BTW.. for being a Bristol Dem. you sure know the inner workings of the Senate Republicans political operation (or whatever there is of it). So you're either a Senate Republican staffer or a Bristol R. Either way you're pretty inconsistent.

Wolcottboy said...

All these Anon's are so hard to follow... GC - ever consider mandatory screennames? (even though they could be swapped -but that could be amusing.)

I still don't understand this 'commuter line'. It sounds like the Metro-North we have now. Why not a lighter rail? Light rail is cheaper than the heavy rail we have now. Then you can add more stops. What about something even cheaper than that? Bring back the trolleys perhaps? Monorail?

There's a website out there for single cars that ride on rails but are like elevators- you summon one and it comes. you enter your destination and boom! your there. That won't work on a large scale yet - but would be great to propose in a place like New Haven - connect the colleges and downtown, also maybe the CT Post Mall and it'll work great.

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