Connecticut Republican legislators said on Saturday they want the state to challenge a part of the American Rescue Plan Act which limits states’ ability to cut taxes. 

GOP senators and representatives are calling for tax reduction beyond the targeted relief backed by Governor Ned Lamont (D). A major roadblock to greater decreases will be the COVID-relief bill President Joe Biden signed into law last year. The act included $195.3 billion in recovery funds for states and barred states accepting allocations from using them to “directly or indirectly offset a reduction in net tax revenue … or delay the imposition of any tax or tax increase.”

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Shelton), Senate GOP Leader Pro Tempore Paul Formica (R-Salem) and House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora (R-Northford) sent the governor and Attorney General William Tong (D) a letter on Saturday asking that the Constitution State join other states that have contested the constitutionality of ARPA’s restraints on tax relief.

“We have heard much from the administration that it is limited by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as to the amount of tax relief the state can provide,” the lawmakers wrote. “We disagree with the administration’s contention that the state is limited. We are not alone in our opinion. At least 16 states’ attorneys general have sued to overturn ARPA’s purported tax restrictions as unconstitutional.”

Kelly, Formica and Candelora noted that wins in those lawsuits have led to successful tax-relief efforts in many states, supported by legislatures and governors of both parties. The legislators say that the federal Constitution’s treatment of spending power as well as the powers of the states and the people as protected by the Tenth Amendment prohibit the federal government from restricting the states when it comes to tax reduction. 

In a statement the Republican leaders called the current temporary suspension of the state’s 25-cent-per gallon gasoline tax “progress” but said the state continues to overtax and reap a “windfall” as a result of skyrocketing inflation. Connecticut’s Department of Labor has noted that the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) has increased nearly eight percent over the last year.

In addition to suspending the gas tax through the end of June, Connecticut is providing residents free bus service until the end of April. Kelly has said additional relief should be given to Nutmeggers in the form of sales-tax reduction. 

Nearly 13 percent of residents’ earnings go into government coffers, making Connecticut’s combined take of state and local taxes the second-highest among all states, just behind New York’s 14.1-percent combined tax burden, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Connecticut Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ned Lamont” by Ned Lamont.