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EXCLUSIVE: Party-Endorsed Boughton on How He Plans to Cut Taxes, and That Stefanowski Twitter Battle

June 26, 2018 By Staff
EXCLUSIVE: Party-Endorsed Boughton on How He Plans to Cut Taxes, and That Stefanowski Twitter Battle

Reclaim Connecticut caught up with Mayor Boughton, who won the party's endorsement for governor in May, on a number of topics this week.

Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury) is carrying the GOP’s endorsement into what is now a five-way Republican primary for governor that will take place on August 14.

But he’s running confident, and he sounded it as he talked to Reclaim Connecticut on a number of topics on Monday. We caught up with Boughton as he criss-crosses the state with about six weeks to go until the primary.

CUTTING TAXES, CLOSING DEFICITS

Reclaim Connecticut asked Boughton the same question we’re asking all GOP candidates we talk to this month: how do you plan to both cut taxes and close $11 billion of projected deficits in your first four fiscal years as governor?

Boughton, like businessman David Stemerman before him, expressed a vision for doing both.

“Our plan phases taxes down over a 10-year period, in recognition that we’re going to have to reorganize state government. There’s no question that the first step will to be going after a lot of the low-hanging fruit, in terms of a reorg. That means elimination of certain departments, it means combining other departments, it means outsourcing other departments. So, every strategy you can use will have to be used. As each year goes by, the deficit grows smaller and smaller and smaller, the projected deficit, the future. So that number, that final number, isn’t as bad as it looks right now. But that and adopting a series of pro-growth initiatives, in terms of our relationship with business, will also spur investment, will spur greater revenues as well.”

Boughton also sounded skeptical about a new internet sales tax. While some Republicans, including Stemerman and Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven), have called for applying the state sales tax to internet sales, to achieve parity with brick-and-mortar stores, Boughton expressed more caution.

“My feeling is that any discussion of taxes, or any kind of revenue, is premature until we fix the culture of our state legislature, which will spend us into oblivion if we somehow don’t get a handle on spending in general,” Boughton said.

“Connecticut has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. This is certainly one way in which we can go look at deriving more revenue, but until we talk about how we spend and why we spend, and how we’re so inefficient in so many different ways, you’re just chasing your tail.”

“EVERYBODY IS ‘FIRST FIVE'”

Reclaim Connecticut also asked Boughton about the Malloy ‘First Five’ program. Boughton suggested the better way is cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, speeding up the permit process, and more.

“That program, the First Five program, has not been successful. Because smart CFOs immediately figured out that everybody’s ‘First Five,'” Boughton said. “So all you have to do is raise your hand and say ‘I’m gonna leave Connecticut,’ and run in with a $10-million check, or a $20-million check. So that’s not gonna work.”

“Really what works is having a very positive, pro-growth, business-friendly environment, and that includes our tax environment as well. Eliminating our regulations, speeding up our permit process, is going to be critical.”

BOUGHTON V. STEFANOWSKI?

Reclaim Connecticut also asked Boughton to address his recent Twitter fight with businessman and GOP candidate Bob Stefanowski, who had criticized Boughton and former First Selectman Tim Herbst (R-Trumbull) over their use of Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) funds.

“I routinely voted against public financing of campaigns when I was in the legislature,” Boughton said. “I’m not necessarily opposed [to eliminating it] … but it is the rules in which we operate right now.”

As for Stefanowski?

“He’s just another guy out there trying to buy the election,” Boughton said. “This is a gentleman who was a Democrat as of last July, and is running around the state trying to convince people he’s a hardcore conservative.”

Reclaim Connecticut reached out to the Stefanowski campaign last week with an interview offer.

“It’s almost silly that we’re even having this discussion,” Boughton concluded of the spat.

He’ll continue to engage voters and constituents on Twitter, though.

“It’s a very good way to gauge people on democracy,” Boughton said.

The Danbury mayor will be gauging as many people as he can ahead of a primary election that appears far off, but is only six short weeks away.