EXCLUSIVE: Walker, Boughton Spar on Income Tax; Both Promise Plans to ComeJune 13, 2017
After Mark Boughton proposed eliminating the income tax, Dave Walker called it "not credible" on Twitter. Walker explains to us why he said that.
Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury), who may run for governor, raised eyebrows around the state last week with a proposal to eliminate the state income tax.
One man whose eyebrows were raised, but not in approval, was Dave Walker. The former U.S. Comptroller General, who’s also exploring a run for governor, called out the proposal over several tweets. Here is one of them:
@MayorMark wants to eliminate the state income tax? Pure pandering and not credible on its face without fiscal plan. It's time to get real!
— Dave Walker (@CTDaveWalker) June 7, 2017
Reclaim Connecticut talked to Walker on Monday about his criticism, and what he thinks can be done to both eliminate Connecticut’s deficits and provide tax relief.
BOUGHTON: “RESPECT,” BUT DISAGREEMENT
Walker explained why he’s opposed to Boughton’s plan: “It would cost several billion dollars and he has no plan to pay for it.”
“There’s no question that we need tax reform in Connecticut,” Walker added. “But in order to be able to do what Mayor Boughton proposed, you gotta figure out how you’re gonna pay for it.”
Walker went on to repeat what he said on Twitter: it was “populism and pandering, and not credible on its face.”
Walker stressed that he respects Boughton. “I think Mark Boughton has done a good job in Danbury,” Walker said. “But Connecticut is sinking. And we need someone who’s tough enough to tell the truth.”
BOUGHTON: “SHOCKING” WALKER DEFENDS INCOME TAX
Given the opportunity to respond to Walker’s critique, Mayor Boughton was critical of Walker’s stance:
“David Walker is simply shooting from the hip,” Boughton said. “Indeed, it is shocking that he’s defending the income tax. A tax that has driven almost 14 billion dollars out of our state since its inception.There are nine states that do not have an income tax and they are flourishing.”
Walker argued that he is not defending the income tax, but “promoting truth and fiscal responsibility.”
“That fact that David Walker cannot imagine a Connecticut without an income tax is precisely why he is not ready to lead our state,” Boughton added.
Boughton added that his plan “pays for itself, without an income tax, and protects vital services and our most vulnerable population.” An aide said a full outline of Boughton’s plan is coming later.
Walker argued Boughton should release it now: “Boughton says he already has a plan. If he does, he should release it.”
TAX RELIEF: ESTATE, GIFT
So what’s the truth, according to Walker?
“I think we have to stop the flight of high-net worth philanthropists from the state,” Walker said. “And those aren’t just hedge fund people. They’re also CEOs of companies like GE, and Aetna.”
Walker’s ideas to retain wealth? Make the estate tax “more competitive,” and “eliminate the gift tax immediately.” Walker also said that he’s willing to look at “more comprehensive tax reform,” including switching from an income tax to a consumption tax.
DEFICITS: FOCUS ON REGULATIONS
As for paying for those tax cuts – Connecticut is facing a $5 billion-plus deficit over the next fiscal years – Walker said Connecticut has to “dramatically cut spending,” change state employee benefits and retiree health, and offer “regulatory relief” to businesses.
“We have to grow the economy and provide more opportunity,” Walker said.
Walker said he’ll have a deficit mitigation plan out by the end of the year. For now, he’s waiting to see how Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) and the legislature balance the two-year deficit.
“But what I will tell you,” Walker argued, is “they’re not gonna solve the problem.”
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