What relief from the property tax? And gasoline prices exceed TCI | Chris Powell


Governor Lamont noted last week that he was considering property tax relief, apparently in the context of his campaign for re-election next year. Of course, for decades the whole state thought about property tax relief and a lot of politicians chatted about it, so where is it?

Because the property tax trend in Connecticut has long been and remains higher. At best, some cities manage to keep their property tax rates stable in an occasional budget year. Then they go up.

The governor’s idea of ​​property tax relief is just a property tax credit against state income tax, a tax credit that has made occasional appearances over the years. years when governors wanted to pose in the run-up to state elections, a sort of bribe for voters. But the property tax credit is no relief at all, just a replacement of a small amount of local property taxes with revenue from state taxes. The net total of taxes does not change, nor does a city’s property tax rate.

When the state government’s financial position tightens, the property tax credit is reduced or eliminated.

Overall, this type of property tax relief has been offset by state tax increases.

Some argue that this tax transfer is an improvement because the state government’s tax base is much larger than the municipal tax base and therefore the state can tax the rich globally. But for most people, the tax transfer is a washout, and its only real beneficiaries are government employees and dependents, who receive most of the money.

The long-standing failure to obtain property tax relief This may sound strange, as every state budget contains appropriations for cities which are hailed as property tax relief. But most of that money is diverted to increase the pay of unionized municipal government workers, pay that typically consumes at least two-thirds of municipal budgets.

There can therefore be no relief from property taxes until municipalities control their labor costs, and this will not be possible as long as state law requires municipalities to arbitrate. compulsory union contracts for municipal employees.

Real land tax relief would require the repeal of binding arbitration or at least the authorization of municipalities to elect arbitrators who set the terms of contracts. This would force cities to hold referendums on municipal property tax increases and a state law placing a cap on municipal property tax rates.

Most importantly, the public should wrest control of the state government and municipalities from the unions of government employees, who control the majority political party in the state. That is why no Democratic governor is likely to grant property tax relief.

So thinking of a property tax break, as the governor says, is about as effective as thinking of a ham sandwich when someone else has already eaten it.

* * *

For long months, the governor and many lawmakers in Democratic states have been eager to involve Connecticut in what they call the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI, a regional deal to raise wholesale taxes on gasoline in the name of collecting gasoline. funds for cleaner means of transport. Supporters of the deal said it would not raise gas prices in Connecticut by more than 15 cents a gallon.

But now gas prices are skyrocketing – an increase of $ 1.34 a gallon or 65% from last year. The Biden administration has crippled the US energy industry and inflation is raging in general and eroding living standards. So Democrats seem to be losing their enthusiasm for the higher gas prices.

Support for the TCI is waning and 11 U.S. Democratic Senators, including Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, last week urged the president to lower gas prices, possibly by freeing oil from the strategic oil reserve.

Gas prices in particular and inflation in general are likely to have a big influence on next year’s state and congressional elections. So, with the Democrats in control in Washington and Hartford, what political price are they willing to pay for their environmental stance against carbon-based fuels?

Probably not much, in which case they’ll show that they never really believed what they said about the alleged climate change emergency. This urgency will prove to be less urgent than the next elections.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer.


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