Republican Tom Foley told a Shelton audience on Friday that he would cut taxes, hold state spending flat for two years, and bring a business-friendly approach to running Connecticut as governor.
Foley said his policies would “be much more supportive of people who are job creators.” He claimed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has raised taxes and used anti-business rhetoric, causing some companies to move out of state.
“Many of them are walking with their feet,” said GOP gubernatorial candidate Foley, speaking to about 100 people in an auditorium at the R.D. Scinto office park in Shelton.
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Robert Scinto, the well-known developer, said it can be a challenge to get companies to stay in the state despite all that Connecticut has to offer. Scinto said businesses move elsewhere to save on taxes.
“This is a serious problem,” said Scinto, noting, “I deal with this economy every day.”
Answered audience questions
Foley spoke for about 15 minutes and then answered questions at the informal event on Friday afternoon. The questions focused on taxes, charter schools, state pensions, the apparent gender gap in the support of the two candidates, and the future of United Technologies in the state.
Foley, a Greenwich businessman, lost to Malloy four years ago in the closest gubernatorial race in modern Connecticut history.
‘A new direction’
Foley was introduced by Mayor Mark Lauretti, who said “a new direction” is needed to implement change in Connecticut.
“We regulate too much. We tax way too much,” said Lauretti, a Republican now in his 12th term as Shelton mayor.
Lauretti said the state’s young people are moving elsewhere to begin careers, and people with financial means are leaving as well to avoid high taxes.
Dave Thomas of Trumbull, who works for R.D. Scinto and attended the campaign event, said he was impressed with Foley. He is not a fan of Malloy’s leadership, and wants lower taxes in the state.
Thomas said he just had to write out a $6,000 check to the state when selling his home to cover taxes related to the sale. “It’s outrageous,” he said.
Higher taxes and slow growth
Foley said Connecticut’s economy has only grown by a total of 1% in the three-and-and-a-half years since Malloy took office, partly because the Democrat implemented “the largest tax increase in state history.”
Those higher taxes have hurt family budgets, putting them in what Foley called “the big squeeze” due to stagnant or declining wages and rising costs.
Higher taxes also have increased costs for businesses and caused them uncertainty, which limits private investment, he said.
The public sector has been growing while the private sector has not in Connecticut, according to Foley. The state also has “a chronic spending problem” that has yet to be addressed, he said.
Proposes tax reductions
Foley wants to cut the state sales tax by a half-percent, eliminate the state income tax on Social Security payments, and limit the car property tax to a maximum 30-mill rate anywhere in the state, which should help vehicle owners in high-tax cities.
On the spending side, he wants no increase in the budget for two years. Once that helps to bring spending under control, Foley said, he would begin looking at more comprehensive tax reform.
He also said he would work to improve schools, especially in communities where students are not doing well. The state’s achievement gap — highlighting the disparity between the state’s poor cities and better-off suburbs — needs to be solved, Foley said.
Foley said there’s “a lack of opportunity” in Connecticut, and therefore many young people go elsewhere to find jobs and start families.
Yet the state has so much potential, he said, with its academic institutions, human and natural resources, and a skills base in such fields as technology, medicine and high-end manufacturing.
“We ought to be a place where people really want to stay,” Foley said.