Opinion: Senate Democrats stop grocery tax again

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25).

You may have heard or read in the news last week about the possibility of a new grocery tax in Connecticut.

It is not happening.

Together with my Senate Democratic colleagues we told the administration to change its incorrect reading of the budget and not tax groceries. After our united stand, the administration fixed its error and groceries will remain untaxed.

This is what I’ve said about a ‘grocery tax’ in January. I’ve been consistently against it.

The misinterpretation by the state Department of Revenue Services (DRS), which is an executive branch agency, of a few words in the state budget has caused all of us in this state unnecessary anxiety and confusion.

In addition to stopping this tax, Senate Democrats have asked for the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to pursue with DRS how and why its position and interpretation of the budget changed. During budget negotiations nonpartisan staff, partisan staff and the staff of the Governor all agreed on the legal interpretation of the budget. We need to get to the bottom of how and why DRS came to this new and incorrect position.

Just to be clear, nearly every single one of the groceries you now buy in your local supermarket has not been taxed since Connecticut created its sales tax in 1947. That’s 72 years of no taxes on your groceries. And that’s not going to change.

There are a handful of items for sale in some grocery stores – the types of ‘prepared foods’ that you might also buy at a restaurant or a fast-food establishment – that have almost always been subject to the 6.35% sales tax. That list is not going to change. We think this is a matter of fairness for small business owners who own local restaurants and employ local residents.

So, to recap:

  • Senate Democrats stopped talk of a general grocery tax when it was one of a number of items being considered by the administration in early January.
  • Senate Democrats stopped any grocery tax from being included in the state budget.
  • Senate Democrats stopped DRS from creating a new grocery tax earlier this month.
  • Senate Democrats will stop the creation of any grocery tax if anyone tries to propose one in the future.

Thank you for reaching out and standing with us as we fight against this regressive tax.


Peter Torrano September 22, 2019 at 8:59 am

So Republicans discover and uncover the enormous blunder perpetuated by the Democrats that would have cost many citizens, in particular the less affluent and needy, millions of dollars to munch on a hot dog, and now Duff and his Democrat colleagues are taking credit for fixing it? How unintelligent does Duff think his constituents are? He then says he tells the “administration” to stop this travesty. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Duff the majority leader of the “administration?” Was he not in the chambers when his party rammed this offensive piece of legislation through? Maybe if he would stop reporting on traffic on I95, weather updates and assorted other really, really important things he might find the time to productively legislate for Norwalk and Darien. After all, he found time to author this self-serving article designed to deflect blame away from him and his cohorts. He should be able to find time to make sane, educated and less harmful decisions. At least we should hold out hope that he can.

Ursula Caterbone September 22, 2019 at 9:24 am

Come on Bob, you can’t vote in favor of the grocery tax in the budget bill, then try to credit your party for putting a stop to it only after it was uncovered by your opposing party. Not knowing the extent of the tax you voted for is no excuse.
If you adamantly opposed taxing groceries in January why did you not exhibit due diligence when the tax was presented for a vote?

John ONeill September 22, 2019 at 10:01 am

I can’t believe what I just read. The only thing that comes to mind is the state has legalized pot without telling us and our Senator went on a bender this weekend..I’m speechless

Scott September 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

Duff’s concerns are not with the citizens of Norwalk/Darien. Never have & never will be! Duff just wants to make money off of us with his lies. Who ever votes for these people should be mortified by the corrupt b.s. they sell you! You all should thank a Republican for shaking this up…..

Jo September 22, 2019 at 10:32 am

Do these people not talk to each other? I am very concerned if legislation gets pushed through “as is,” without careful review of draft language? Is this what happened?!

Ursula Caterbone September 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Bob, did you know that you also voted yes to a tax on machines at the laundromat. I don’t know if this is a newly taxed item or if it’s a tax increase but this clearly discriminates against low income people who have no choice but to use already over priced laundromats. I’m guessing neither you nor the Governor nor most of the legislators who voted yes on this tax are aware of just how expensive laundromats have become because you haven’t been to a coin operated laundry in a very long time.

John Miller September 22, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Bob. I didn’t realize that the perception you have of the constituents in your district is that they are so stupid and uninformed that they would actually buy this!

Paul Lanning September 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm

The state’s coin-operated laundromats won’t be taxed after all, according to planetlaundry.com.

“After significant lobbying and activating grassroots, the Finance Committee voted on the governor’s tax package – and they removed the repeal of the sales tax exemption for coin-operated laundry. In other words, back to status quo.”


Peter Torrano September 22, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Well, I still get a chuckle because of one poster a few days back saying she would vote for a toaster over a republican. Wonder if she approves of the actions of those toasters she helped put in office?

JustATaxPayer September 22, 2019 at 4:11 pm

As Nancy Pelosi aptly said, in some districts a glass of water with a D can win office. I need to escape this once vibrant state!!!

Drewt September 22, 2019 at 9:09 pm

What a Crock Bob!! Bob is the kind of guy that would cut your leg off give you the bandage and say Cheese! Look how much I helped! You can stop now! Go enjoy an Ice Cream!

Bryan Meek September 23, 2019 at 5:59 am

Abe Lincoln’s you can fool all some of the time, but not all of the time comes to mind here. Once can only hope that day of reckoning is approaching for our sakes.

When Bob was first elected, Norwalk used to receive 10% of it’s operating budget through state grants. Today that is down to 5%. Bob’s shiny title of Senate Majority leader comes with a hefty price tag of selling Norwalk out. We have literally been short changed $100s of millions during his texture. The senate Dems let him have this title so long as he votes the way they tell him to, It’s very sad.

To be fair, occasionally he is able to bring some pork home to his district. We have him to thank for the Tyvek Temple. Also the museum will have A/C now even though half of our schools don’t. That was sure a good trade off for locating the Danbury train yard on our last 5 acres of riverfront property along with the Walk Bridge that no one wants.

In the meantime he has voted to support the $700 million bus way from New Britain to Hartford that gets a $20 million subsidy for the 3000 riders it serves. Only if our 11,000 students get about half as much. He sat by while Hartford was bailed out of its $500 million debt they couldn’t pay off which includes paying for things like a $30 million minor league baseball stadium…..that used to be in New Britain…..where Bob’s busway goes back and forth from.

Bob and his team also gave Jackson labs, a biotech startup that no one had ever heard of, $300 million. 6 years later they have yet to produce one marketable product. Recall we could not afford to give blue chip GE half of that in tax breaks, so they bailed and with it so did our real estate values.

At the same time, we have the highest debt per capita in the country and will need to raise all sorts of taxes in the future to pay for it. Bob has a wonderful future doing channel 12 news and weather. Fixing the problems he helped create, not so much.

Really?! September 23, 2019 at 12:12 pm

So Bob, you opposed the tax, but voted for it anyway. Then when there’s public outrage and CT gets negative national news coverage you have to tell everyone you and the Democrats stopped it. Wow! Sounds like my kids when I catch them doing something they shouldn’t be. And on top of it you blame the ‘administration’. You’re the majority leader! It’s that type of slimy behavior the public detests and why there’s a despise for politicians regardless of the side of the aisle they sit on.

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