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Connecticut’s rich ain’t goin’ nowhere

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Gov. Ned Lamont, our sturdy and steadfast champion against COVID, is unfortunately not quite so heroic on economics. Coming from Greenwich, he has imbibed the local Kool-Aid about taxes.  This means he has absorbed the propaganda that a 2% increase in the tax rate on incomes over $1 million a year will send the wealthy scurrying to Arkansas and Tennessee to avoid such confiscation.

In fact, the wealthy probably would not even notice the change if their accountants didn’t bring it up at annual review time. We are indebted to President Trump for coining the term “Fake News” to describe this “fleeing” fantasy.

In practice our prospective plutocrats most often come here in U-Hauls while young and vigorous. They work hard and creatively, gaining stature and wealth and grow deep roots in the community.  There are the hospital board, the museum presidency, the Chamber of Commerce awards, the kids’ private school, the reserved table at the club, the chairmanship of the house of worship, the Zoning Commission, the marshal of the Memorial Day Parade, the cemetery plot. Do you think Mr. Big Bucks is going to leave all that because of a tweak in the top tax rate? Not a chance.

OK, if he has Reynauds Syndrome like some of us and thus suffers especially from the cold, he may risk the flooding and the Trumpies and move to Florida. For this he will call Mayflower, adding to their outbound statistics. But Mayflower doesn’t measure the young folk coming in. Returning to Connecticut in 1965, all my earthly belongings were in the back of the car. Consequently, Mayflower’s statistics on who’s moving are deeply flawed.

So, Governor, we think you are dealing commendably with the virus, and you saved us from a junior Trumpie in your own election, but on taxes you could use a reeducation camp.  You are welcome to move to Norwalk. We will set you up with a whole new welcoming society featuring roots into our wide spectrum of wealth and poverty. There you could wade knee-deep in Connecticut’s real diversity. You’d love it. And no Kool-Aid.

Bill Collins

This opinion was first published in the Connecticut Mirror.

14 comments

Sue Haynie February 15, 2021 at 6:13 am

I don’t think Mr. Collins reads the newspapers. The rich, and not-so-rich, are leaving Connecticut. They might not be going ‘to Arkansas’ but they are going to North & South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. That’s simply a fact.

Mitch Adis February 15, 2021 at 8:13 am

The rich have options us regular folks don’t. Perhaps they call their second home in Florida their primary residence. In the new world of Telecommuting, they may take their Hedge Fund with them. There are other shelters they have access to as well. So, don’t kid yourself. Why do you think Connecticut has been shrinking for the past couple of decades. Keep it up and all us poor folks will suddenly be considered “Rich” so the State can tax us to pay the bill.

DryAsABone February 15, 2021 at 8:13 am

One hundred and eighty-three days being in their second home is all it takes.
Registering luxury autos and boats out of state.
Spending shopping dollars someplace besides the new empty mall or the recently opened restaurants.
Encouraging “anti-business” policies of all sorts…and you end up with empty warehouses. Or tax exempt properties like the old GE campus.
Only the little people drink Kool-Aid. The rich swill vintage Champagne.Be careful what you wish for.

David McCarthy February 15, 2021 at 8:32 am

This sort of willful ignorance has seen a resurgence because COVID gained CT a few New Yorkers who wanted out of the city. A year ago, the flow of Nutmeggers to the south ran steady, as it will again. I doubled my net income moving here, but yea, no one else will come.

John O'Neill February 15, 2021 at 10:12 am

I don’t know Bill Collins, except that he was Mayor 40 years ago and seems like a very nice man. While reading this piece it should be pointed out that Bill also wrote a piece a couple of years ago about how terrific a place Iran is. Really ??
I would also note that the jobs being created in CT these days are typically warehouse jobs (sorry, fulfillment center jobs) while those leaving are typically $100k+ plus…My view is he’s wrong on both counts:
I wouldn’t walk the streets of Tehran at midnight, and non-gov’t citizens do watch their wallets. (Contrary to what Gov’t bureaucrats believe)
I’d also refrain from using Orwellian terms like reeducation camps, you’re showing your true colors. And before you ask, I’m not a Trumpette. Just someone who’s tired of Gov’t Bureaucrats bashing those of us they consider less informed.

Peter Torrano February 15, 2021 at 10:27 am

Mr. Collins, I moved to SC two years ago and didn’t use Mayflower. I moved everything myself using a UHaul. So I guess you pinning your assumption and allegation of a “deeply flawed” Mayflower statistic is, well, “Deeply flawed.” You didn’t consider the statistic that would include those, like you, who moved ourselves.

Michael McGuire February 15, 2021 at 11:01 am

Hi Bill,

Interesting points, but I have to push back a bit on this with some common sense. We have been studying the Lower Fairfield County office market for 16 years now and we can see a clear exodus of business from this area since we started doing this in 2004. This has resulted in an unsustainably high level of vacancy rate in our larger class A and B office buildings not directly located within a 1/4 mile of a train station.

This has been a slow and steady progression. Sure a 2 percent added tax is not the much in and of itself, but take that in totality with all the other business taxes and burdens placed on individuals and businesses over the past three decades, and anyone would ask themselves – do I really want to remain in CT and do business here? California is the canary in the coal mine.

Covid’s impact on the workforce and how we do business is a historic inflection point. It basically allowed corporate America to outsource permanently~ 25+ percent of their office needs onto the employee (as in work from home). Many office markets are now running in the 30% plus vacancy rates.

Work from home and zoom meeting etc. are the new norm. Therefore, why locate in CT when you can arguable perform most finical services and tech based businesses (a core component of the 1 percenters job descriptions) anywhere.

I can only see this process speeding up as the millennial generation moves into business leadership positions. Now add in the WOKE component and the confusing demands that is creating, and common sense tells you that States that protect their citizens rights, operate in an efficient manner, and provide a clear policy path therefore allowing businesses to plan appropriately, will fair the best.

Bill – the 1 percenters have been leaving. Any many of the 2-20 percenters are not far behind. Then what?

Not so Non Partisan February 15, 2021 at 11:36 am

I guess the author of this is not aware that about 1/2 of the homes in my hood have been sold by families moving to lower tax states or territories and or places that are less progressive.

Money is fungible

Nora King February 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm

Sorry Bill totally disagree with you on this one. Lamont needs to stay the course on not raising taxes. People are fleeing. I am about done with the taxes in this state. The middle class are getting squeezed. We keep getting our taxes raised and our schools are moving in the wrong direction, we have no immigration laws, the cities are not properly funding the schools to keep up with the lack of immigration laws and we need to stop the pain of people leaving for states with less taxes. If the city is not going to follow immigration laws then they have to be prepared to pay for all of the money that is needed for education. I am not in favor one way or the other but the city can’t be a Sanctuary City and then not fund it. Taxing and taxing is not the answer. Most middle class people in Norwalk have one foot out the door already.

u haul King February 15, 2021 at 6:10 pm

I moved to Fairfield county in 2017. At the time my annual income was about 70k a year. I drove up in a uHaul, pulling my company leased Lexus behind it to a nice rental in Weston that I could barely afford (with for sale signs literally on every other overpriced house). Three years later, my now fully remote income is 320k a year and the for sale signs are gone, for now. I spend my money in the town center, the local restaurants and apples at the orchard without a second thought. More taxes are not the answer to someone like me, a young, smart 40 year old. I’m single, now own a home and pay the township 13k a year in taxes on my little 2k sq foot home with no kids in your (great) school system (plus CT income tax on my “remote” income). I am your dream. I have one foot out the door and one on the uHaul gas petal when I read things like this. I’m not alone.

We left February 15, 2021 at 6:57 pm

I retired in 2020 and we were in North Carolina within a month. CT is one of the most beautiful places in the US.However the fiscal headlock, one party rule and an endless list of new taxes, fees,tolls legalizations etc. make leaving a clear choice for those that can. Lamont wisely knows that. Too bad he has no good choices other than hard reform. The beast will be fed but not by us. Sadly this will burden fall to those who can’t leave and they will be hard pressed to pay the ever steeper price. Sadly we departed.

Mike O'Reilly February 15, 2021 at 7:56 pm

What is missing in this discussion is how much Rent’s and home prices have risen in Florida due to people leaving NY,NJ CT. I work for a property management company based in St. Petersburgh fl.
In 2011 our rents on a nice 2 bedroom were $600-$700.00 now those unit’s are $1300.00 for new tenant’s. we are charging upwards of $1600.00 a month for what can only described as a less than desirable place to live.
The Government has only made this problem worse by giving us rent increases for our section 8 tenants .We get raises every year without asking for them.

The biggest issue is poorly run states literally forcing resident’s to move.

DryAsABone February 16, 2021 at 10:45 am

This article made me think.
If I moved to a place like Virginia and I had a total of $170,000 in retirement income (SS+other) the state income difference would be $3318. My property tax would be very different…about $9000+. Gas and energy costs are substantially less. The state has great roads,parks,schools…
It is a beautiful state,as are many other states in the nation.
There is diversity and great cultural events/venues.
$12,000-$15000 a year may not seem like a lot to Hartford but it sure shoots holes into the authors argument. There are MANY other states that represent good alternatives to mismanaged,Corrupticut.
Making the move as soon as I can and I will miss my home of many,many decades but look forward to a bit more financial freedom.
Basically Corrupticut has become a real drag.

Norwalk Native February 16, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Dear Mr. Collins,

I remember when you were Mayor and I thank you for your service to this City.

Unfortunately, you have drunk the kool-aid coming out of the current Democrat party. Your arrogance, sir, and that of your Party is a big reason why California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to experience long-term net population loss and the implosion of their cities. Worse still, there is ample evidence that those leaving are higher earners who are being only partially replaced by people with much lower income levels.

Covid has exacerbated and accelerated trends that were already in motion; namely the relocation of labor and capital to lower cost parts of the country and the world. Why: because labor and capital have never been more mobile than they are today. This was already true before employees could work anywhere they wanted to. It will only become moreso in future. Like it or not, Capital always seeks its highest and best use (and return).

Your argument that people will be willing to pay higher and higher taxes to live in an expnsive, cold-climate state where there are fewer and fewer jobs is ridiculous on its face. Please step away from your Marxist textbooks for a moment and look at the reality of what is happening to this state and the states I mentioned above. Before it is too late.

Thank you

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