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CT Governor’s Race Voting Guide

By Eric Myskowski, Reporter

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With both the CT governor election and school mock election coming up, this is an important candidate analysis. There are two main candidates for governor, Democrat Ned Lamont, and Republican Bob Stefanowski. No other candidate is above 10 percent in polling.

Bob Stefanowski is a self-made businessman. Before running for governor, he was chairman of the 3i group, CFO of the bank UBS, and CEO of the Dollar Financial Group. He says he wants to use this business expertise as governor. Bob Stefanowski’s main priority is to cut taxes. He wants to get rid of the income tax over eight years, drastically lower the corporate income tax over two years and get rid of the gift and estate taxes immediately. He says the lack of income tax will spur population growth, the lower business tax will stop businesses from leaving, and the lack of gift and estate tax will convince retirees to stay. This though requires new sources of government money to pay for this lack of this governmental income, on top of the massive budget deficit we already have. To cut the deficit, he wants to do zero-based budgeting, essentially creating a completely new budget to get rid of waste money. In theory, this waste will not be on the new budget because only the important programs will be re-funded by it. He also wants to contract out public services like the DMV, do a great deal of public-private partnerships and, weaken the unions to spend less money. Stefanowski does not support tolls, calling them another tax. His economic plan is endorsed by Larry Kudlow, the president’s chief economic advisor.

Unfortunately, there is no way enough money to pay for the tax cuts under his plan. According to State financial statements, the income tax and other taxes he wants to eliminate give the state over 10 billion dollars per year. To pay for this, he would need to come up with over 10 billion dollars. He says zero-based budgeting, private-public partnerships and economic growth will make up for it, but the numbers do not add up.

When president Carter tried zero-based budgeting, the first year of his presidency the deficit was 2.5 percent of GDP. In the last year of his presidency, the deficit was 2.4 percent GDP. When Regan became president, he abandoned this practice. This was the only time zero-based budgeting was used on a big scale and it was a failure.

Stefanowski’s private public partnerships, something he said will be centered around infrastructure, will not work much better. A public-private partnership is when the government contacts out something like maintenance on bridges and road repairs, to a private company. The private company pays for it instead of the government. The only problem is the private company needs to make a profit. The main way companies get money for this infrastructure work is through tolls, and Stefanowski has repeatedly said he does not support tolls. His licensing out the DMV would save money because the private DMV can make money off the services. This though would only save the government 66.3 million dollars since that it is what it cost the state to run it in 2017.

Lastly, we would need absurd economic growth to pay for it. In theory, with a bigger economy, there would be more companies and people paying taxes to make up for the smaller taxes. The only problem is the amount of money each additional person brings to the state (including from the businesses he would be part of) is 4,200 dollars. This is because the projected revenue for the state this fiscal year is 18 billion dollars. Getting rid of federal grants, revenue from tourism, and other money from out of the state sources, it goes down to 15 billion. This means that the citizens of Connecticut, personally and through businesses, give the state 15 billion dollars. With a population of 3.59 million, the government gets 4,200 dollars per person. This means that for each person coming to Connecticut, he would generate 4,200 dollars in revenue to the state. If the income tax, half the revenue, is cut, the state would in fact make only 2,100 per person. With this, it would take 4.5 million more people to move into the state, a state with a current population of 3.5 million, to balance his income tax cut. This would mean the population of the state would need to have doubled by the time the income tax is phased out in eight years, with growth of 13 percent each year. The state with the fastest growth rate, Texas, has a growth rate of less than 2 percent each year.

Stefanowski has a few other positions. In his proposed “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”, he wants a supermajority necessary in the state legislature to approve tax increases and term limits for state legislatures. These are 10 years for representatives and 8 years for governor. Stefanowski has an AQ rating from the NRA. Stefanowski says he wants to get rid of regulations but has provided no specifics. Lastly, Stefanowski was endorsed by president Trump.

While Ned Lamont is also a businessman, he has also been in politics for some time. While he is chair of Lamont digital systems and founded a different telecommunications company, he ran against Joe Liberman for US Senate in 2006 and ran against Dan Malloy in 2010. Ned Lamont wants to the raise property tax credit, money given by the state to help people pay property taxes, by 50%. This would cost the state about 300 million dollars. Unlike Bob though, he listed ways he would pay for it. He wants to make penal system reforms to keep up the falling inmate population, something that is supposed to save 125 million a year. Closing the tax gap, the difference between owed taxes and collected taxes is supposed to bring in 150 million dollars. Lastly, he wants to regulating sport betting, something that is supposed to bring in 30 million dollars, bringing the total money saved over 300 million dollars.

He also wants to get rid of the business entity tax (250 -dollar biannual tax on businesses) and exempt some small businesses (businesses under 10,000 in assets, just under 50 percent of businesses) from paying the business personal property tax. He also he wants to cut the capital stock tax. Unlike Stefanowski’s plans, economic growth could actually pay for these much smaller cuts. Furthermore, Lamont wants to do reviews on organizations that either receive tax benefits or pay too many taxes, to make the system more efficient on top of shrinking some business regulations. Ned also wants to create a business board where he can talk to business leaders. Lastly on business, he wants a 15-dollar minimum wage.

In general, Lamont has a much more detailed plan than Stefanowski. Lamont wants to invest money in education. This includes modernizing school technology and making it easier for international students who graduate college to stay in Connecticut. He also wants to regulate the pharmaceutical industry in several ways. He wants to cap drug prices so that consumers pay no more than 275 dollars per month in out of pocket drug costs as long as they have insurance. Lamont also wants to build on the Affordable Care Act. Lastly, wants to make community college free for Connecticut residents with a pledge to live in Connecticut after they graduate.

For the DMV, Lamont has a few plans. He wants allow licenses to be renewed online and make kiosks for basic tasks in the DMV so less people have to go. He also wants to lengthen car registration from 1 to 2 years, and license renewal from 6 to 8 years. Lastly, he wants to put kiosks into town halls, make some DMV “supercenters” and update the DMV software. This is all to cut down on wait times.

In other areas, he wants an equal pay for equal work amendment and both mandatory paid family and medical leave. For the environment, he wants to keep electric tax credits, be carbon neutral by 2050, increase land conservation to 8,000 acres per year, and in general, more environmental regulations. For infrastructure, he wants to keep all state transportation funds in the fund because in previous years millions of dollars per year were taken to the general budget. To combat gun violence, he wants background checks for all firearm purchases, a ban on assault weapon possession, and other things like gun buybacks and other investment in other community programs.

All said and done, he also has financial issues. He wants to invest in a great deal of programs and has no said way to pay for them. These include investing the ones listed earlier like the education programs, economic programs, environmental programs, business programs. The problem here is that unlike for his tax cuts, he does not provide many sources of income. He said he does want union concessions, but he also knows that he needs union support to be elected. He can pay for his infrastructure plans though, or at least partially because he wants truck tolls on I-95, tolls worth 100 million a year.

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