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If you've been following the negotiations over the state budget, you've no doubt heard three words: constitutional spending cap. But do you know what they mean?...Neither did WNPR's Jeff Cohen, who brings us this report. What is the constitutional spending cap?

"The constitutional spending cap was adopted as part of a broader political agreement to get majority support for the adoption of a state income tax." That's Bill Curry, a Democrat and one-time state comptroller, talking about the law that is now two decades old.

The debate over the Amazon tax seemed to put e-commerce giants on one side of a bright line, and brick and mortar businesses on the other. But the fact is that the distinctions between real and virtual businesses aren't so clearly defined.

 

Manufacturing might seem to you and me to be the ultimate brick and mortar business. It's an industry where you make things you can drop on your toe in a building you can walk into. Not so, says David Drake.

 

"All the commerce I do is done electronically."

 

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy's plan to get rid of the car tax for most of vehicles in the state will not likely pass the legislature. That's according to the office of Democratic House Speaker Brendan Sharkey. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. A spokesman for Sharkey says that the car tax is one of the most regressive taxes the state has. On that, he's in agreement with Malloy. But Sharkey doesn't think that the governor's plan is the right one. So he's asking a legislative committee to study the issue further.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy’s popularity is at an all-time high, jumping five points in a new poll to 48 percent. What do people like about the job the governor’s doing? Well, they say he’s good in a crisis...and he’s had plenty of those to deal with.

They’re less pleased with his handling of the state budget and tax policy.

A big part of his time in office has been spent trying to overhaul the state’s economy - investing millions in programs like “First Five” - which promises incentives to certain companies that create new jobs.

Small town leaders from across the state were at the state capitol today. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, they were there to push back against one of Governor Dannel Malloy's budget proposals -- the elimination of some car taxes.

Malloy wants to eliminate the property tax for cars worth less than $28,000. He says it will provide middle class tax relief and that it will curtail the "most hated and regressive tax in the state." John Elsesser doesn't like the tax, either. He's the town manager for Coventry.

Harriet Jones

The Malloy administration has made an explicit effort to change Connecticut’s reputation as a state that’s unfriendly to business. To that end, 2011’s Jobs Bill offered loans and tax incentives to companies already hard at work in the state. One of those programs might be about to become a victim of its own success. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the Job Expansion Tax Credit might have more takers than the state has dollars.

 

 

 

Governor Malloy's Budget

Feb 8, 2013
Chion Wolf

Governor Dannel Malloy’s new budget includes some tax relief, and a promise of no new taxes.  But it’s also a document that even some in his party are calling “confusing.”  Today, where we live, we’ll try to pull apart fiction from reality in the new two-year state budget.

Governor Dannel Malloy presented his budget to the legislature today.  In it is at least one item intended to be attractive to the state's taxpayers.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Malloy wants to exempt most cars from the property tax. Connecticut residents pay taxes based on the value of their cars, and they pay them to the town where the vehicle is registered. Malloy says this system has been historically unfair.

alancleaver_2000 / Creative Commons

Connecticut residents will have to start paying sales tax on purchases from Amazon.com later this year. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the web giant has plans to site a distribution facility in the state.

This week’s last-minute deal avoiding a jump over the fiscal cliff will bring some relief to a perhaps unexpected group of taxpayers: Commuters.

Yeah, most of us are happy that we’re not hurtling over the fiscal cliff. But this might come as unexpectedly good news for some. As Steve Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign puts it: 

“This change will bring significant pocketbook relief for hundreds of thousands of transit riders in the region.”

Legislators appear to have stepped away for the minute from significant changes to tax advantaged retirement accounts in the latest attempt at a fiscal cliff fix. That’s welcome news for those who say right now most Americans don’t do enough to save for retirement. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Surveys consistently show that working for or owning a small business is a woefully bad way to plan for your golden years.

Chion Wolf

Governor Dannel Malloy is heading into the new year with a series of questions surrounding this budget year - and the next couple. He’s put a plan in place to cope with the state’s current budget shortfall...but the next three years show the state budget billions in deficit.

He’s said that everything - except tax increases - are on the table, and he’s working with legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle to find a solution before next week’s special session.

It seems there’s no end to the negative consequences of the fiscal cliff. And just the latest to be highlighted is the chaos it’s about to cause for payroll managers. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

If there’s one thing taxes cause, it’s paperwork. In a little more than a week from now, payroll managers everywhere will have to start computing paychecks for employees for the new year. Trouble is, no-one knows how much tax we’ll be paying.

The National Flood Insurance Program promises help for businesses and homeowners caught in devastating weather events like Sandy. But it’s a huge burden on taxpayers, and some critics argue that it encourages building in flood-prone areas. WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports on how new rate increases for the program might affect its future.

Nearly 40% of small businesses that sustain severe flood damage in natural disasters subsequently close down. Pop’s Grocery on Main Street in Bridgeport is struggling to stay off that list.

Family businesses are arguably at the heart of the American economy, and yet there’s little recognition of their contribution. In the second of our series, WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on the unique challenges facing families that go into business together.

Just how important are family businesses to the economy?

“There are statistics that say that family businesses comprise 80 to 90% of the business entities throughout the country.”

An advocacy organization that represents towns and cities across the state is calling on the state to give more money to municipalities.   The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities issued a campaign bulletin intended for candidates this fall.  It makes one clear, if not new, point: Connecticut relies too heavily on the property tax. Jim Finley is CCM's executive director. "It's the most regressive tax in our state/local tax system.  It's income blind.  It doesn't matter whether you have a job or not, your property tax is due.

Democrats on the Hartford City Council spent much of Friday afternoon trying to figure out just what to do with next year's city's budget. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports.

The city's budget isn't yet final, but according to the latest proposals, what you think of it will depend on what kind of property you own.

Chion Wolf

In every legislative session there are winners and losers, but one of the more extraordinary losses this time around was Senate Bill One, a high profile piece of economic legislation with broad bi-partisan support. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports. 

Fresh from passing the legislation in his own chamber just a couple of weeks ago, this is how Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams spoke about the measure:

The state legislature was unable to agree on a law that that would have brought Hartford $8 million in tax revenue. And as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, there's a lot of blame going around.

J Holt

Several demonstrators were arrested outside Cigna’s annual meeting in Hartford Wednesday, protesting about executive pay and what they say is the company’s interference with healthcare reform. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The Buffett Rule Splits Connecticut Senators

Apr 17, 2012
Fortune Live Media (Flickr Creative Commons)

On the eve of today’s deadline for filing state and federal taxes, Connecticut’s Senators split over raising taxes on the richest Americans.

The so-called Buffett Rule would make all Americans earning more than $1 million pay a 30 percent tax rate on their investment income. Named after billionaire Warren Buffett , who doesn’t like paying a higher tax rate than his secretary, the rule failed on a procedural vote Monday in the Senate. 

Business advocates told an official hearing this week that Connecticut’s tax structure is too complex and too changeable. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Harriet Jones

It’s spring, and lots of us are busy in the garden, making things grow. Some experts on business development think it’s also time Connecticut’s towns and cities began gardening – economic gardening, that is. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Economic development, like any other field is prone to fashions. One minute it’s tax incentives, another it’s industry clusters or enterprise zones. But one city in Colorado came up with an idea more than 20 years ago that’s been slowly spreading ever since. Economic gardening.

Cashless Society

Apr 9, 2012
borman818

Do you ever wonder what the cash in your pocket is really worth? It might cost more than you know.

According to the IRS, every year the U.S. government loses billions of dollars in tax revenue due to individuals underreporting, underpaying, or not filing their taxes.

But, tax evasion is just one problem associated with a society awash in cash that can’t easily be traced.

Governor Malloy has declared Connecticut open for business. But many business lobbyists continue to say it’s one of the least business friendly states in the nation.  So who’s right?  WNPR’s Harriet Jones takes a look at a new analysis of Connecticut’s competitiveness.

This year’s debate over the minimum wage has crystallized a lot of views of Connecticut’s legislature as anti-business.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. must pay the state millions of dollars in taxes and penalties. The court found that teachers in the classroom act as local salespeople for the out-of-state bookseller. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously reversed a trial court judge’s decision, and ruled that Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc should pay the state more than 3 million dollars in sales tax, interest and penalties. 

Segarra's New City Ride

Mar 15, 2012

Correction: The mayor's new car is not the black one originally pictured.

The city of Hartford is facing a ten percent budget deficit next year. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, city officials say they may ask bigger non-profits to lend a hand...and write a check. Hartford has billions of dollars in property. But about half of it isn't taxable, because it belongs to the state or to non-profits. That means schools, universities, hospitals, and others don't pay taxes on the land and property they own. And that means the city of Hartford is property rich, cash poor, and facing a $54 million budget hole next year. So here's an idea.

1000+ say no to their tax bill in New Haven

Feb 28, 2012

Residents in some areas of New Haven are protesting sharp increases in their property tax bills this year. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports on a proposal the mayor has announced offering some relief.

In April, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will present next year's budget to city council.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, he's got a pretty big hole to fill between now and then. The city's current budget is about $547 million, and it's running just a slight deficit.   But next year could be much, much worse. 

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