Bob Stefanowski talks taxes, tolls, Connecticut’s future

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FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2018, file photo, Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski speaks to the media after gubernatorial debate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. Stefanowski touts his work at blue-chip companies like General Electric and UBS Investment Bank. Rivals criticized the most recent item on his resume: CEO of DFC Global company, which offers financial products that are not legal in Connecticut. Stefanowski counters that his experience straightening out the troubled company would serve him well fixing the state’s stubborn budget deficits. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Former 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob Stefanowski ,said he believes Gov. Ned Lamont is taking the wrong approach to fixing Connecticut’s economy and is working to prevent a future that he previously predicted on the campaign trail.

On Oct. 18, 2018, during an aired Channel 3 Eyewitness News segment, Ned Lamont pledged not to toll ordinary drivers. On Feb. 16, however, Ned Lamont posted a video on his Twitter page providing an alternative to his promise of only tolling tractor trailer trucks.

Lamont stated, “I’ve also provided you a second option that would be trucks as well as cars with maximum discounts for Connecticut residents.

“I think it’s unfortunate that he broke a fundamental promise,” Bob said, when asked about Lamont considering tolls for all cars. “He promised to not toll cars, and he broke it within 38 days into his new administration and I think that [nothing] has really changed between the time we debated this for a series of five debates where he talked about Connecticut and how he wouldn’t do it.”

Stefanowski referred to Governor Lamont’s decision to change this position as “somewhat disingenuous.”

“He said he was only planning on raising $200 million from tractor trailers and now, I think he admits that he can’t do that, so the second question is why are we now tolling automobiles to the tune of $800 million when you know the original estimate was never to get any more than $200 million in revenue?”

Alongside the proposal of tolls, Lamont discussed a sales tax expansion in his budget address at the state capital on February 20 that would bring a tax to consumer products such as textbooks, digital downloads, medicine and parking.

“The other campaign promise he made was no new taxes.” Stefanowski added on the topic of his capital address. “An expansion of the sales tax to everything from bicycle helmets to vegetable seeds is not an increase in the tax rate, but it is a sales tax rate, but it’s to me an increase in the amount of taxes that people are going to pay, so once again he’s going back on one of the fundamental promises that people relied on to vote for him.”

In reference to the “sin taxes” on items such as cigarettes, plastic bags and sugary drinks as part of the proposed expansion, which is an effort of Lamont’s to limit consumer use of those products that he had mentioned at the budget address, Stefanowski also argued that it is not “the role of government to decide whether people should be doing those types of things. I don’t think tax policy should be driving decisions like that and I think it’s probably an excuse to raise more revenues more than anything else.”

Stefanowski has been active in a rising movement put together in opposition to Ned Lamont’s budget proposal concerning tolls. Citizens of Connecticut who felt their voices were left unheard have formed a grassroots movement called “No Tolls CT”: an online petition to say no to tolls can be found on their website “notollsct.org”, which has currently reached over 41,000 signatures.

“It’s important that in a respectful, and I stress respectful, but also vocal way, that we remind people that we’re still out here.” Stefanowski explained, detailing the significance of the movement. “If you look at the election, Lamont had 50 percent of the vote, we had 46 percent of the vote, we had more voters than any other Republican candidate other than Jodi Rell. I think it’s important that we continue to have a voice out there.”


Sean Humphrey is a regional correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sean.humphrey@uconn.edu.

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