Should Connecticut repeal the estate and gift taxes? Should members of the military and their spouses be forced to jump through the red tape of Connecticut’s occupational licensing laws? These are just two of the many bills that were debated this week. Here is Yankee’s take on each of the bills on which we testified.

Opposed:

Senate Bill 8: An Act Authorizing Municipalities to Levy a Local Sales Tax
We understand that municipalities will have difficulty maintaining services using only a property tax. However, a separate tax would just encourage further irresponsible spending by many cities and towns and create a bigger burden on both businesses and residents.

Supporting

Raised Bill 920: An Act Concerning Occupational Licensing for Members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and Their Spouses
This bill would give the Commissioner of Consumer Protection discretion in issuing occupational licenses for members of the military, veterans and their spouses. Military families that have to relocate to the state should not have to jump through occupational licensing hoops to do the same job they were doing in another state.

Senate Bill 2: An Act Concerning the Development of a More Equitable Education Cost-Sharing Grant Formula
We are encouraged to see that the legislature is taking on this issue, rather than having education funding being determined in the court system. We should determine whether or not the significant amount of education money is being spent in an effective and equitable way. We encourage the legislature to adopt a child-centered funding formula and one that treats all public schools the same.

House Bill 7157: An Act Concerning Online and Blended Educational Opportunities for Students and Teachers
Online learning allows for increased flexibility for students and particularly can help those with challenges, like those who change schools frequently or have fallen behind, stay on track.

House Bill 7146: An Act Requiring a Criminal Conviction for Certain Offenses Before Assets Lawfully Seized in a Lawful Search May be Forfeited in a Civil Proceeding
The state should not have the ability to take an individual’s personal property if they have not been convicted of a crime. This bill will bring civil asset forfeiture more in line with criminal asset forfeiture and is necessary to preserve private property and due process rights.

Senate Bill 58: An Act Repealing the Estate Tax & Senate Bill 5 : An Act Increasing the Estate Tax Exemption
The Connecticut estate tax has been driving out wealthy retirees and businesses to other states. We feel this tax should be eliminated to keep retirees – who pay income, sales and property taxes – in the state. At the very least, Connecticut should do the same as New York and raise the estate tax exemption to the federal standard. We cannot afford to lose any more of our well-off retirees to other states.

House Bill 6358: An Act Exempting Family-Owned Farm Land From the Estate and Gift Taxes
Farmers can often find themselves on the wrong end of the estate tax despite not being wealthy. This is because the value of their land adds up quickly. Families should not have to lose their farm to pay the estate and gift taxes.

Senate Bill 62: An Act Repealing the Gift Tax
Connecticut is the only state in the nation to have a gift tax. Similar to the estate tax, it drives out some of the very people who pay large amounts in income and property taxes. They can literally go anywhere else and not be subject to a state gift tax. It is time to end this tax and keep more wealth in the state.

Senate Bill 7: An Act Concerning Property Tax Relief for Businesses
This bill would exempt the first $10,000 of a business’s property tax and relieve small businesses that owe less than the $10,000 from the burden of property taxes. This bill would encourage start-up and small businesses in the state and relieve their tax burden.

House Bill 5588: An Act Imposing a Cap on General Obligation Bond Allocations
Connecticut has a huge debt problem and we need to put some restrictions on our borrowing. This bill would impose a cap on all bonds not related to education or economic development. While we would like to see a stronger cap, it is essential that we get our bonding under control.

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