Most people seem to like Governor Lamont’s proposal to reduce the state limit on municipal property taxes on cars from 45 mils to 29 mils and have the state government reimburse the revenue lost by municipalities whose car tax rates exceed 29 thousandths. The proposal would save people a lot of money.
But there’s really no money to be saved here. Because car tax refunds would cost the state government $160 million a year, so what people gained in one pocket they would lose in another – losing whatever the state government could do for them with that $160 million.
People who own homes or rent apartments but don’t own cars — many city residents — might prefer that $160 million be spent on reimbursing residential property taxes, not car taxes.
The poor might prefer that $160 million be spent on improving their public medical insurance.
Retailers might like the money spent on reducing sales tax.
Many people might prefer to use the money to reduce their income tax.
Government employees might prefer that $160 million be spent on their raises and pensions. etc
The most serious argument for capping car taxes is not savings at all, but a reorganization of Connecticut’s tax burden, shifting it somewhat from municipal governments, which can only generate substantial revenue from their property taxes, to the state government, which has many ways to generate income, and from the poor to the wealthy. disabled.
The car tax is said to be terribly regressive, that is, it hits the poor hardest. But that’s overkill. Car taxes are light on old bangers and heavy on new, expensive cars.
More than heavy, car taxes are simply annoying. Unlike property tax on residential and commercial properties, which for many people is bundled into monthly mortgage payments, for most people car tax bills, while predictable, show up unexpectedly in the mail, because few people sequester funds for them.
But the car tax cap proposal raises an interesting question: If Connecticut can cap property taxes on cars, why can’t the state cap municipal property taxes? generallylike some other states have done?
The car tax cap was proposed only because the state government has emergency funds from the federal government. Maintaining the cap for more than a year or two will require big appropriations when that federal money is gone.
Capping property taxes on not just cars, but everything else would require huge new appropriations from the state government for municipal government revenue reimbursement, and perhaps extensive regulations on how municipalities could spend state money. Or it would require an unprecedented curb on municipal spending, most of which goes to municipal government employees, whose unions are typically the most politically influential group in any city.
So the car tax cap may turn out to be nothing more than a governor’s election year gimmick, then be increased or allowed to expire once the governor and lawmakers are re-elected, imagining that they can propose the cap again in four years on the eve of the next gubernatorial election.
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WHAT RESPONSIBILITY? : According to the Connecticut Examiner, a rookie state trooper caught shoplifting from a gun store in Newington last year will only face a 10-day suspension and transfer from the barracks of Hartford at Danielson Barracks.
Meanwhile, a State Police spokesman acknowledges that the department’s investigation into a soldier’s retirement party at a beer hall in Oxford 2½ years ago ended with no further discipline than the light sentence given to a sergeant who drove off drunk in his state car and caused a serious accident .
Other soldiers reportedly drank at the party and left in state cars, contrary to regulations. But the department concluded it could not prove such misconduct – after long appearing unwilling to investigate seriously enough to prove it.
Lawmakers in democratic states act as if the responsibility of the police extends only to the mistreatment of minority groups. Republican lawmakers don’t want to dwell on the accountability issue at all. This leaves a lot of room for misconduct.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer.