There is an idea being floated this election season regarding changing the state income tax to address the state’s historic budget deficit currently pegged at around $3.4 billion. No, it’s not a proposal to make the tax more progressive so multimillionaires pay a bit more. It’s to make those who earn too little money to currently have to pay income tax start paying. Brilliant, right?
On Sunday’s “Face the State” with Dennis House (a Shad favorite) on WFSB-TV, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield, a Democrat, talks about the idea in the form of what advice would she give to fellow Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy. “I happen to believe that everyone should contribute to the income tax. I know there are people who don’t pay below a certain level, but I believe to have full input… to be part of the state, you have to pay a portion of your income to the state of Connecticut,” Bransfield said according to a preview of FST in House’s blog. Just what we need—expand the income tax to people who can least afford to pay it. Even worse, Bransfield is the president of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns.
I’m sure that somewhere the numbers are being run as to what nailing people who make very little money with the income tax will bring in, but as we used to say behind closed doors while crafting state budgets, “That’s not where the money is.” In other words, that’s not going to solve the problem. Not even close. It will, however, make life a little tougher for people who earn not a lot of money.
Despite the fact that Bransfield’s stroke of genius is getting attention, the idea to slap relatively poor people with the income tax is already being touted by a candidate for governor. Not Malloy who will likely make thoughtful tax changes and only if necessary and not Republican Tom Foley who has his sights set squarely on state employee unions to solve the problem. It’s Independent Party candidate Tom Marsh, the first selectman of Chester. Regardless of who proposes it, when and where, it’s a horrible idea. Close some sales tax loopholes, cut spending drastically and adjust the income tax if necessary but don’t smack the people who can least afford to get smacked.