Lavielle celebrates tax-free holiday by dumping on Malloy

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State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton/Westport/Norwalk) has words of hope: Tax-Free Week can help relieve Connecticut’s unrelenting tax pressure on your pocketbook.

NORWALK, Conn. – Politicians have been racing to deliver the good news – it’s tax-free week.

In what may have been an orchestrated effort, emails lauding the chance to temporarily escape the government funding burden known as sales tax landed in the NancyOnNorwalk inbox in the following order: state rep first, state senator second, then, oh my, the governor.

Or is Gail Lavielle just more on top of things?

The Republican Wilton-Norwalk-Westport representative sent her email on Aug. 9.

“With the start of school just around the corner, it’s time for back-to-school shopping for many families. Fortunately, it’s time for Connecticut’s annual Tax-Free Week as well,” she explained helpfully. “Tax-Free Week runs from Sunday, August 18 through Saturday, August 24. During that time, purchases of clothing and footwear under $300 are exempt from sales tax, which is 6.35 percent of the purchase price of these items.”

This was helpfully followed by a history lesson.

“Tax-Free Week was first enacted in 2000, and applies to most clothing and footwear purchases that are intended for everyday use,” she wrote. “Goods not covered under the program include items that are solely intended for use in sporting activities and accessories such as jewelry, watches, handbags, and wallets. By law, Tax Free Week runs from the third Sunday in August to the following Saturday.”

Then came the Republican spin.

“We almost lost Tax-Free Week during the budget negotiations of 2011, the year that residents and businesses experienced the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history, including an increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 6.35 percent,” she wrote. “Fortunately, my colleagues and I were able to work with the administration and the legislative majority to preserve it. Even though the state’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates that the state will give up about $3.5 million during this year’s tax holiday, I believe the benefits for consumers and businesses are worth the revenue loss.”

There’s more. You’re hurting enough, she said, as the unemployment rate in Connecticut is, at 8 percent, higher than both the national and New England averages. Then, “Just last month, the wallets of everyone in Connecticut took another hit with the 16 percent increase in the gasoline tax. This has brought the price of a gallon of gas close to 50 cents, making it the third highest in the country. At the same time the diesel tax increased by 3.5 percent, and this will have a ripple effect, raising consumer costs on everything from groceries and clothing to construction, as well as other goods and services. In this context, any tax relief is welcome.”

With that beating, it’s a wonder that Democratic state Sen. Bob Duff came out of the woodwork to offer his own sunny spin.

“As summer winds down, the back-to-school season becomes a very busy time for both parents and children. There are new schedules to adjust to, and often a fair amount of shopping to get done. Tax free week makes it a little easier to purchase some of those necessary items, so I encourage everyone to take advantage of it,” Duff said in a press release sent on Aug. 14 – five days later than Laveille.

Exempt items include shirts, jeans, socks, gloves, hats, rain jackets and sneakers, and are listed on the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services’ website, the release said.

“Families can save even more by planning ahead and comparing prices between stores using sales circulars in Sunday papers and the stores’ websites,” the release said. “Consumers should also keep an eye out for coupons, as items valued at more than, but discounted to, under $300 with sales, coupons, and similar merchant promotions will also be exempt from the state sales tax.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy came in last, with a Friday press release. That must have given his staff plenty of time to get input, as the release quotes three — count ’em, three — government officials, and a merchant.

Lavielle had it wrong, according to Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan, who is quoted by Malloy’s staff as saying the state expects to forego between $7 million and $8 million during the week — not the paltry $3.5 million quoted by Lavielle.

“Sales tax-free week is the right time to shop for back to school or back to college but also for seasonal items like winter coats and boots,” Sullivan allegedly said.  “Best of all, merchant promotions will bring the sale price of more expensive items down below the $300 tax-free level.”

Who’s the merchant? Connecticut Retail Merchants Association (CRMA) President Tim Phelan.

“CRMA views the sales tax-free week as a win-win for all parties,” he said, according to Malloy’s staff. “It’s a win for consumers because they get to see real savings on their purchases, a win for the state because these purchases and others will stay in the state, and a win for retailers who will see increased sales.”

Sorry, not going to include the Malloy and Jane Wyman comments.

Just because it’s fun, let’s go back to Lavielle.

“Because of its tax burden, high costs of living and doing business, and sluggish job growth, Connecticut continues to lose people and businesses to other states,” she wrote. “I’ll continue to fight for tax relief to reduce the financial pressure on consumers, lower costs for all businesses, and make our state more competitive. Meanwhile, I’m glad that you can take at least advantage of Tax-Free Week.”


11 responses to “Lavielle celebrates tax-free holiday by dumping on Malloy”

  1. piberman

    Rep. Lavielle is correct pointing out the consequences of Gov. Malloy’s very unusual fiscal recovery program involving unprecedented tax increases and spending to protect the public unions. Together with bottom national ranking in jobs and economic growth. Next year voters will have an opportunity to reflect on the Governor’s stewardship of CT’s changed circumstances to a national poster child for fiscal mismanagement. And the Democratic super-majority in Hartford. The “smart money” is betting full steam ahead – higher taxes, spending and CT business leaving the state. CT voters will continue to endorse the Governor’s vision for a new CT. Those who object can leave – their choice.

  2. notaffiliated

    “Just because it’s fun, lets go back to Lavielle”, Nancy – it’s hardly “fun” in this state. A recent Forbes article by Jim Powell is titled:
    How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America’s Worst Performing Economies?

    Take a read. Ms Lavielle has it right. We’re suffering out here and the author’s POV is that Malloy isn’t helping.

  3. Bryan Meek

    CT population is up 3% over roughly 20 years, but size of government has gone up 300%. It isn’t sustainable and we are not better off for it.

  4. Tim T

    Your comment “unprecedented tax increases ” is right wing propaganda. Please list for us what tax increases you are referring to and what makes them unprecedented.
    It’s amazing how the Republicans forget about the Republican Grandma Rell and the Republican criminal Rowland, much like they forget about the village idiot Republican Bush.

  5. Andy S

    @Tim T: Just wondering what your comment “Republican Grandma Rell” is supposed to mean? …

    (This comment has been edited to conform to our comment policy…)

  6. notaffiliated

    yes, it’s all George Bush’s fault. I’m glad I’ve been enlightened by Tim T

  7. M Allen

    Yes, Tim, piberman is a well-known right-wing propagandist. (Tongue wedged firmly in cheek on that one)
    Perhaps if you had any understanding of just how uncompetitive this state is on a national scale, you would better understand. Job growth? On life support with what little manufacturing remains looking for the exits. Taxes? Going higher. Government expansion ever increasing. We cry and moan about what goes on in Norwalk, but Norwalk’s ills are as much a symptom of the larger cancer plaguing this state. Economic growth is in the toilet and the policies emanating from Hartford are doing zero to make the future any better.

  8. Rob Farone

    @Tim T Casting stones is quite foolish: Case in point Governor Jodi Rell born 1946 Presumptive Democratic President 2016 Hillary Clinton born 1947. Will you refer to Mrs. Clinton in that regard?

    George W Bush spearheaded 2 wars and utilized Gitmo as a terrorist holding ground. Meanwhile Barack Obama promised* to close Gitmo, continues to support the Afghanistan campaign while fighting 2 proxy wars in Libya and Egypt and utilizing drone strikes in an unprecedented number. Lets not forget the Snowden fiasco either.

    And then we have the great Weiner-Spitzer duo?

    Couldn’t agree more with Rep Lavielle; Connecticut is being pushed right down the drain. It really doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on, you’d be a fool not to see it.

  9. Tim T

    Looks like the Republicans once again are having issues handling the truth. You know what they say the truth hurts.

  10. Norwalk Lifer

    Ms. Lavielle blames everything on the tax status, but she forgets; the Rowland administration came roaring in on state tax abolishment; silence ensues, then Rell and Genuario do their level best to balance the state budget, and fail, so Malloy inherits not the wind, but a lot of hot air.

    Look it’s fun to cast disparaging comments about the governor, but this person must acknowledge that she does not have the answers; Wilton Connecticut is a bedroom community, that allowed a paltry number of businesses into their community, and made those businesses pay “dearly” for the privilege. It’s a good thing that Wilton is a bedroom community, because if they weren’t fueled by the high paying jobs in the city, they would be worse than Detroit. The egocentric position of some politicians is breathtaking at times. People are complaining LOUDLY about grand list stagnation, and blame the locals, give it up, you had an investment industry gone amok, and ALLOWED to by this government for too long; and what did they do? they devastated a revenue stream thru their greedful and wanton stewardship, those of us who play by the rules, know how to balance credit to debit ratio, and did not “overextend” our ability in home ownership by mortgaging more than we could pay, sit silently and hear others who joined the “Reverend Ike, pie in the sky” ponzi scheme to buy houses they could not sustain, at mortgage rates that were not stable, now complain loudly that they cannot rid themselves of the loan sharks who circled them in that pool of foolish ambition in the first place. Right, let’s blame the state government for our own failures. If PZs in precious towns like Wilton, heard from common sense constitutents, about how to grow a community, thru manufacturing, professional real estate, and small business, then the elitists like this person would have to sit down and listen for a change, instead of using a paltry week worth of tax freedom to wave a banner of cinematic outrage at “the state government”.

    Norwalk Lifer

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