Is an expanded Sales Tax in our future?

Snowy State Capitol (Report-It/ Robert Caroti)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–Could an expanded sales tax be in our future in Connecticut? It’s just one of the things that could be recommended by a special committee at the Capitol next month.

This committee was established in the new budget late last year and is technically called the “Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth.”

It really should be called the ‘how do we get out of this mess’ committee.

Committee co-chairman Jim Smith, the former head of Webster Bank, said today that there are things in Connecticut’s tax structure that can be improved. Another committee member said she favored spreading out the sales tax. There is widespread speculation that the 6.35 percent Sales Tax that you pay on many purchases, will be a target for overhaul when the committee makes its recommendations in a few weeks.

“When you look at the sales tax, Connecticut raises less per capita, and significantly so than do some of the surrounding states,” says Smith.  One estimate says that exemptions to the sales tax, that is the things that are not taxed now, could generate another billion to a billion-and-a-half in revenue to the state.

The co-chairs stress no decisions have been made and they are they also looking at how the state spends money added Smith,  “What we’re doing is looking at things in the context of competitiveness and looking at Connecticut’s tax structure as compared to surrounding states.”

Today the committee heard from the state’s top labor leaders who agree on changing the tax structure but are worried the committee will recommend more give backs from the state workers.  Sal Luciano, the head of the Connecticut A.F.S.C.M.E. saying,  “The problem really is the inequality of wealth in this country. To ask workers to just keep giving back makes no sense.”

Committee co-chair Bob Patricelli, a health care entreprenuer, says labor unions have to be part of the discussion adding, “Part of the solution as well but I’m not, in saying that, trying to say we’re aiming at concessions from labor. We’re not at this point.”

Some that have testified in previous meetings advocated for limits on collective bargaining.  The committee is supposed to make its formal recommendations by March 1st.

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