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Foley Pitches Car Tax Reduction and Cap As Part of Urban Strategy

by | Sep 24, 2014 5:31pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: The Economy, Election 2014, Jobs, Poetry, New Britain

Christine Stuart photo One of the centerpieces to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s urban policy agenda is a proposal to cut the car tax rate in any city or town where it’s higher than 30 mills.

Foley said his proposal would only cost about $30 million and it would also include a cap on the personal property taxes for small businesses in cities where the mill rate is above 30 mills.

“This will cut the car tax in Hartford by 60 percent or about $400 on a typical car,” Foley said outside New Britain City Hall on Wednesday. Under Foley’s plan, New Britain’s tax rate on cars would be cut by about 18 percent.

“The car tax is simply too high in our cities and distorts markets,” Foley added. “People should be able to drive the kind of car they want to drive and can afford and the car they own shouldn’t affect where they choose to live.”

Foley also would cap personal property taxes for small businesses in cities where the mill rate is over 30 mills.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2013 proposal to cut car taxes was promptly squashed by local mayors and first selectmen who rely on the revenue to support their municipal budgets. That year, Malloy’s budget called for eliminating the tax on motor vehicles valued at $28,500 or less. The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated that cities and towns would lose $632.8 million as a result.

Foley was flanked at the press conference by mayors from New Britain, Bristol, Danbury, and Meriden. When Foley announced the car tax cut the mayors looked surprised, since it would mean some of them would lose revenue.

“The revenue loss to our cities — the mayors will be happy to hear this — will be made up by the state,” Foley said.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said his city isn’t impacted by the proposal because its mill rate is below 30 mills.

“For those municipalities who struggle with this issue, particularly Hartford and Waterbury and New Britain with a very high mill rate, this has real appeal,” Boughton said. “As long as the state of Connecticut provides a refund for that lost revenue I don’t have a problem with it.”

Boughton said a universal mill rate would be problematic because under previous administrations “we haven’t quite been able to trust the government to do what they say they’re going to do and usually municipalities are the ones left holding the bag at the end.”

He said it’s usually up to municipalities to “duct tape money together to make sure kids have classes to go to and officers are able to get paid.”

Boughton, who was running against Foley earlier this year before dropping out of the race, said he thinks Foley’s car tax proposal is a “good compromise.”

When Foley announced his campaign for governor last September, he vowed to come up with an urban strategy. The document released Wednesday was the result of his conversations with individuals and businesses who live and work in Connecticut’s cities.

Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the Malloy campaign, said Foley’s urban strategy, especially the car tax reduction, does not even begin to address the needs of urban communities.

“He will shut down local schools just like he closed mills leaving children without a classroom,” Bergman said.

Bergman added that the report plagiarizes from other sources. The Connecticut Democratic Party sent out a press release highlighting sentences from the Connecticut Policy Institute, a nonprofit think-tank Foley founded after he lost in 2010, an article published by The Heartland Institute and the Pelican Post, two free-market think tanks. Some of the sentences in those sources appear verbatim in Foley’s urban strategy.

A section of Foley’s three-part urban strategy involves turning around underperforming public schools.

Foley said he would ask local school districts with underperforming schools to offer in-district school choice. He would combine that with “money follows the child,” a controversial funding method. Under a “money follows the child” approach, the district would pay the charter school to educate the child. The state would deduct the money from the town’s Education Cost Sharing grant and send it directly to the charter or magnet school.

Those two things combined mean “the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools to perform better,” Foley said.

He said underperforming schools should be on notice if he’s elected governor because those are the schools that would receive fewer funds.

“They should start trying to be better schools right away,” Foley said.

He said if they don’t improve with fewer resources and lose too many students, then they’ll be reconstituted.

Is this the tough love approach to education?

“I don’t see it as tough love. I see it as institutions that aren’t performing lose. Yeah, that’s kind of the way the private sector works and it ought to be the way the schools work.”

So some schools will close as a result of this and other schools will get more resources? “Yeah,” Foley said.

Earlier in the day, Democratic legislators came to the Capitol to criticize Foley’s education policy.

The final part of Foley’s urban strategy involves reducing crime and improving the criminal justice system.

“There are a lot of impediments to ex-offenders getting jobs,” Foley said. “I respect the rights of employers to have relevant information about prospective hires and other things that I think they need to make intelligent and thoughtful hiring decisions, but I think in many ways the deck is unnecessarily stacked against ex-offenders.”

He said he would like to find ways to get employers to hire ex-offenders and give them a chance.

Asked if he would support banning the box on the initial employment application that would force a person to disclose their criminal history, Foley said his “inclination would be to get rid of it.”

Foley said he thinks he will be able to pay for all these initiatives without raising overall spending.

“Listen, this state spends $21 billion a year,” Foley said. “That’s a lot of money.”

He said there are places in the state budget to save money, especially when it comes to healthcare costs.

“Everybody in Connecticut will benefit if we can reduce the cost of healthcare services in the state by 5 or 10 percent,” Foley opined. “I don’t think that’s an unreasonable goal and if we can do that, the state spends over $7 billion a year on healthcare services, so if we can get 10 percent that’s $700 million right there.”

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(17) Archived Comments

posted by: ASTANVET | September 24, 2014  10:14pm

This is a ludicrous plan… the State (foley) cannot dictate to a town or municipality how to charge taxes on vehicles or other property.  They could however eliminate the income tax, or reduce the gas tax, reduce the sales tax or any combination of those state fees/taxes…

posted by: Bethy | September 25, 2014  12:32am


This man has no experience whatsoever. He is the biggest joke in this election. Man he needs to roll back to Greenwich and prepare to retire…and the crew standing behind him in the pic is just weak as ever!

posted by: spaceweasel | September 25, 2014  5:59am

How about just eliminating the Automobile tax? What ever you lose there can be picked up 200% be trimming spending waste.

posted by: One and Done | September 25, 2014  9:03am

Political for sure, but savvy none the less.  Anyone who thinks team Foley isn’t smart is about three steps behind.  They have the suburbs locked up vote wise and are now honing in on the cities.  First appealing to swing voters who have children held hostage in inner city schools that are run like asylums, and now with a promise to reduce onerous car taxes. 

Unlike Malloy’s patently obvious gimmicks, these are real strategies aimed at securing the election.  Real analysis of this race shows that it is Foley’s to lose right now.

posted by: Commuter | September 25, 2014  9:13am

He “thinks” he will be able to pay for “all these initiatives” but can’t “say” “how.”

He would “like” to “find” ways, but he “has” no idea “what” those ways would be.

He’s “inclined” to get rid of it, but doesn’t actually “have” an “opinion.”

The closest he comes to actually getting specific is that he believes we can get $700 million from health care savings. That would be $700 million better than what the current forecast is, a forecast that is much improved thanks to Malloy and Lembo.

So, let’s start there, capitol press corps. Foley claims he’s going to find $700 million in health care savings, and that is how he’s going to pay for his bag of election year tricks and goodies.

Spell it out, Tom. Exactly how are you going to save $700 million and exactly where is that money going to get spent? How much will capping the mill rate cost the municipalities?

How are you going to pay for new classrooms and more teachers as parents pull their children out of failing schools and put them into schools already at capacity?

Do you support transferring children across district lines, like, say, from Bridgeport to Fairfield, Trumbull, and Shelton?

How are you going to deal with the disciplinary and other issues now concentrated in places like the north end of Hartford, when those issues transfer into West Hartford and Wethersfield?

How are you going to transport children from neighborhood schools to schools they can’t walk to - which brings us to your lack of support for a modern public transit system? And on, and on, and on.

It’s all magical thinking, smoke and mirrors. Where is the fourth estate?

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | September 25, 2014  10:06am

So the State—which has financial problems already—is going to cover the cities’ revenue losses under this wonderful plan. Yes, indeed, the State will do that—until it won’t. So I guess “the State will cover it” for maybe one year. Then what? Ooops, cities, you’re on your own. Figure it out.

posted by: ASTANVET | September 25, 2014  10:13am

Commuter, I would hope that you put that same scrutiny towards the Malloy plan (and past failures to do the same things you’re complaining about) - Our dear gov has increased long term indebtedness by kicking the proverbial can down the road.

posted by: Noteworthy | September 25, 2014  10:46am

New ideas are always criticized, especially if they go against the status quo of one party politics. But the reality is the car tax is a hated tax, that somehow still generates a $150 bill on a 14 year old car. Add that statewide, the values associated with that tax are based on full retail, pristine condition which is by design to generate the most tax possible. The problem is it’s almost never accurate which just further fuels the injustice of it. This is a good proposal and it should be embraced.

As for details on how Foley will pay for this or any other proposal, does anybody really care or is that just another way to denigrate a candidate? The same people who want pay for details don’t even require the current governor to say how he will cure a $3 billion plus deficit in the next two years, a deficit he won’t even admit exists. But hypothetically, if it does exist, he says he won’t raise taxes or go back to the unions. We should accept that as gospel?

posted by: ASTANVET | September 25, 2014  11:30am

Noteworthy, The car tax is hated - by all i’m sure.  However it is a municipal tax, not a state tax, if your town wants to eliminate that, they can - and should.  Campaigning for Governor saying that you want to cap the car property tax for “urban areas” is not being honest.  The way to make up the difference is to use a state subsidy from ALL tax payers to pay for someone elses motor vehicle tax?? come on!

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 25, 2014  12:15pm

Bethy: You are a very partisan Democratic worker for Malloy aS you keep attacking Foley, to take the heat off of the most inept Governor in our history. It’s your buddy Dannel who has damaged this state almost beyond repair.
Tom Foley wants to take on the job of cleaning up his mess.  Give him a break.

posted by: art vandelay | September 25, 2014  12:47pm

art vandelay

Believe it or not for once I agree w/Bethy 100%.

posted by: art vandelay | September 25, 2014  12:51pm

art vandelay

I agree w/Spaceweasel.  The automobile tax need to go.  I’m also in favor of a 10% across the board cut in state spending including early retirements for Tier 1 state employees and others.  New employees would not be entitled to a state pension but a self directed retirement plan.  New employees should also be thrown into Obamacare.  I also believe Foley should abolish the gross receipts tax & zone pricing on gasoline.  To top it off Connecticut needs to eliminate the sales tax on alcohol like Massachusetts did.

posted by: dano860 | September 25, 2014  5:41pm

Art, you nailed in the last post.
Zone pricing has gas at $3.76 in Putnam and $3.56 in the Clinton area. Yet going 5 miles into Webster, Mass it’s $3.33. Coming through Maryland we bought gas at $3.19. This tax is a killer in Ct.

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 25, 2014  8:05pm

@art vandelay: How can you agree with Bethy when she wants to eliminate Tom Foley at the polls on Election Day?
Perhaps you are wearing too many hats?

posted by: art vandelay | September 26, 2014  6:27am

art vandelay

I agree w/Bethy in that the Foley has no charisma.  He can’t relate to voters, is not articulate and quite frankly reminds me of Pat Paulsen on the old Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  For you younger folks review his comedy sketches on “You Tube”.  Whoever is running his campaign should be fired immediately.  Foley needs someone who is an “Attack Dog”.  The campaign manager who ran Chris Murphy’s first campaign against Nancy Johnson would be an EXCELLENT choice.

posted by: Salmo | September 26, 2014  5:15pm

Mr. Vandelay: I don’t agree with you too often but I admire your gumption and look forward to your comments and ideas!

posted by: bgenerous | September 29, 2014  11:56am

One aspect of the proposal I like is that both motor vehicle (mostly individuals) and personal property (mostly business) taxes are addressed.  Each of those types of taxes make up about the same percentage of a town’s grand list on average.  Cut the personal property tax and you may get more business in the cities.  Yeah, it will cost state taxpayers to fund this, but the more a city can depend on the their own taxpayers through growth, the less they need to depend on the state.  The personal property tax reimbursement should not just be limited to “small business.”

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