Stefanowski’s tax plan draws criticisms, is praised by UConn College Republicans

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Gubernatorial candidate Republican Bob Stefanowski speaks during a debate with Democrat Ned Lamont at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Conn., Monday, Sept. 17 2018. (Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register via AP)

The University of Connecticut should expect even more budget cuts if Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski is elected in November, UConn Professor of Finance and Economics and Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis Director Fred Carstensen said.

This comes after Stefanowski released a five-point plan to lower taxes and get the state’s economy back on track.

“It’s been cut significantly and it’s going to be cut more,” Carstensen said. “If you look at the state budget, CCSU and UConn are the two biggest line items.”

Seventh-semester political science major and UConn College Democrats President Steph Groebel echoed this fear.

“They’ll have to cut services,” Groebel said. “That will directly impact UConn students.”

UConn College Republicans Director of Political Engagement Jacob Marie, a third-semester political science and economics double major, said UConn will be able to bounce back from more funding cuts.

“The state is suffering. We need to make cuts somewhere,” Marie said. “Some of those cuts will be painful. Yes, UConn might take a hit, but we will survive. There are lots of places that could see some trimming down in budget, but the fact is even if we find those cuts to be not ideal, look at the alternative. The alternative is ridiculous deficits for as far as the eye can see. If you don’t make some of these cuts, the economic ramifications are economically huge and terrible.”

The first step is to eliminate the corporate income tax and business entity tax over two years, according to Stefanowski’s website.

The corporate income tax is a major contributor to the decline of business headquarters in Connecticut, Marie said.

“The corporate tax doesn’t contribute that much revenue, however it is a big reason why people are leaving the state,” Marie said. “For example, GE just left for Massachusetts.”

Step two of Stefanowski’s plan is to phase out the state income tax over the next eight years.

“It doesn’t create the savings he’s talking about,” Carstensen said. “You’re going to have hugely increased property tax[es] (in return).”

Groebel said he is more concerned about how the state will make up this lost revenue.

“I think the really central issue element that most people are taking central argument is the elimination entirely of the state income tax,” Groebel said. “That is 50 percent of the state’s entire revenue. It seems to me there is little to no thought on how they’ll make up those funds.”

Immediately eliminating the gift and estate taxes are the third step of Stefanowski’s plan.

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If you look at the state budget, CCSU and UConn are the two biggest line items.
— UConn professor Fred Carstensen

These two taxes make up under 1 percent of the state’s revenue, according to Stefanowski’s website and confirmed by ctstatefinance.org.

Marie blamed this, amongst other taxes, as one of the reasons there is an “exodus of people leaving Connecticut.”

Conversely, Groebel argued it is “an elimination of yet another source of revenue for the state.”

“Do you really think people move to Florida because it doesn’t have an estate tax?” Carstensen said.

Step four of Stefanowski’s plan is to “embrace zero-based budgeting to reduce spending.”

“My big point about that is first of all our state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” Marie said. “We’ve raised taxes several times and we still have these deficits.”

In this portion of Stefanowski’s plan, he plans to branch out responsibilities currently belonging to public services to the private sector, beginning with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Carstensen said it will not work.

“Stefanowski, who has no experience in the public sector, is bringing a private sector mentality to the public sector,” Carstensen said. “No economist takes him seriously.”

The fifth portion of Stefanowski’s plan is to enact a taxpayer bill of rights, under which state officials “not living up to campaign promises” will be “recalled” according to Stefanowski’s website. This portion of the plan will also limit state legislators to five terms (10 years) and the governor to two terms (four years). Amongst it all, taxpayers can expect to see more transparency around “private interests receiving taxpayer dollars.”

The Daily Campus will break down Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ned Lamont’s tax plans next week.


Luke Hajdasz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at luke.hajdasz@uconn.edu.

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