EXCLUSIVE: Stefanowski on Taxes, Budget, and How Opponents ‘Could Learn a Few Things’ From HimJune 29, 2018
Bob Stefanowski just qualified for the August GOP primary ballot for governor. He's taking his message of tax cuts and fiscal discipline to voters, and taking his opponents to task.
If there’s been one attacked leveled against Bob Stefanowski more often than others in this GOP primary, it’s that he used to be a registered Democrat.
Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury) mentioned that in an interview with Reclaim Connecticut this week, in response to a question about Stefanowski’s barbs over Boughton’s participation in the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP).
So what does Stefanowski say to his GOP critics?
“I’ve been endorsed by Peter Lumaj. I’ve been endorsed by Len Suzio,” Stefanowski told Reclaim Connecticut on Thursday, name-checking two conservatives. “I’ve got a economic plan endorsed by Art Laffer, to reduce taxes. These mayors have raised taxes in their town. Continuously. They could learn a few things from my tax plan with Art Laffer.”
Stefanowski is also hoping Republican voters learn more about his tax plan in the next six weeks, before he faces off with Boughton, former First Selectman Tim Herbst (R-Trumbull), and businessmen Steve Obsitnik and David Stemerman in the August 14 GOP primary.
We talked to Stefanowski about a number of topics on Thursday.
THE TAX PLAN
Stefanowski is taking his Laffer-developed tax plan to voters, in the hopes that it will put him over the top in a competitive primary.
“I came out with a plan, you probably know, with Art Laffer, who was Ronald Reagan’s chief economist, and also helped Trump on his tax plan,” Stefanowski said, in response to a question about being able to both cut taxes and solve Connecticut’s $11-billion deficits problem over the next four fiscal years.
“We have to lower taxes, because people are leaving this state to avoid the taxes. If we lower taxes, we can get people to come back,” Stefanowski continued. “If we can lower the corporate tax, we can get more companies to want to be here. And it’s been proven in a lot of states that if you lower taxes, your tax base goes up and you actually your tax revenues by incentivizing companies and people to want to be here.”
On the ‘First Five’ program, Stefanowski was critical of Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.).
“Dan Malloy’s been playing defense,” Stefanowski said. “We need to go on offense. And the way to get companies to want to be here is not by paying them bribes to stay. It’s by having a regulatory environment, a tax environment, a skilled labor environment, to make Connecticut an attractive place to run a business. And that’s what we’re gonna do with my tax plan.”
ONLINE SALES TAX
Stefanowski broke from opponents Boughton, Stemerman, and Obsitnik in immediately expressing opposition to taxing online sales in the state, which some claim will help brick-and-mortar stores achieve parity with online retailers.
“Dan Malloy has taxed this state to the hilt,” Stefanowski said. “I don’t support new taxes in any form. We need to lower taxes, not find new ways to take more money out of the hardworking people of Connecticut.”
Boughton, Stemerman, and Obsitnik all expressed openness to the online sales tax as a way of achieving parity, but noted their opposition to tax hikes in general.
Asked to go into his fight with Boughton and Herbst from last week, Stemerman focused his attention on the original issue: the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP).
“I hate the CEP program. I think to ask taxpayers to pay $1.3 million to gubernatorial candidates that are gonna run around and tell you they’re gonna be fiscally disciplined once they’re in office I think is the ultimate hypocrisy,” Stefanowski said. “It comes out to $25,000 a day of taxpayer money to pay for TV commercials and yard signs. No other state does it that way.”
ON THE BALLOT
Stefanowski is one of two Republican candidates – along with Stemerman – to recently achieve ballot access.
“I’m pretty proud of what we’ve gotten done,” Stefanowski said. “We were the first gubernatorial candidate in the history of this state to get on the ballot by 15,000 signatures. We’ve never been part of the inner circle of politicians.”
“I love the fact that I went that way,” Stefanowski added. “I’d much rather have 16,000 signatures than a couple hundred delegates from the convention.”
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