The Day – Bob Stefanowski and Ned Lamont face off to empathize with inflation
With Governor Ned Lamont airing a new TV ad outlining what he has done to cut costs for consumers, Republican Bob Stefanowski hit back on Wednesday by calling for using the state budget surplus to do even more.
Both candidates, men wealthy enough to fund their own campaigns, are battling to solidify their understanding of the impact of the worst inflation in 40 years on voters’ wallets and psyches.
“We have to understand what people are going through. We have to understand what they are going through,” Stefanowski said. “And most importantly, we have to do something about it.”
Stefanowski said the governor and legislature should use about a third of the $3.8 billion surplus for immediate tax relief, including reducing the sales tax from 6.35% to 5.99% and further reducing fuel taxes. Republican lawmakers made a similar speech Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable, in the worst inflation in 40 years, to ask Governor Lamont to give back a third and help this mother who drives her children to school every morning, paying 5 $ per gallon of gasoline. I don’t think that’s too much to ask,” Stefanowski said.
The Lamont campaign noted that mothers driving their children to school benefit from several tax relief measures: a suspension of the excise tax on gasoline, reductions in property and automobile taxes, tax credits for children and earned income tax credits.
The state pays $250 for each child, up to $750, in single-parent households earning up to $100,000 and couples earning up to $200,000. The working poor will also benefit from an earned income tax credit of $300.
Both campaigns show signs of trying to brace against the winds of domestic political issues.
Soaring inflation with a Democrat in the White House is a challenge for Lamont, while Congress’ Republican intransigence on gun safety and hostility to abortion rights could be problematic for Stefanowski .
“To the extent that Lamont has to sort himself out from what a lot of people seem to think is the Democrats’ fault for filling the void – inflation, whatever’s going on – whatever Bob does, he can have the same problem, given his own history,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, a Democratic consultant not working on Lamont’s campaign.
Stefanowski, who sought and won NRA approval in his first run four years ago, said Wednesday he supports the Sandy Hook gun law that the NRA opposes and would like to see. Congress pass a similar law on universal background checks.
“I will advocate for more control at the federal level,” Stefanowski said. “There are other states that should be doing certain things that Connecticut has done — universal background checks, things of that nature.”
Stefanowski, who never released the NRA questionnaire he filled out four years ago to get the endorsement, said he won’t be filling out any endorsement questionnaires this year.
He said Democratic videos portraying him as hostile to the Sandy Hook gun safety law are inaccurate. In a passive voice, he said: ‘When you see what has happened over the past four years to the children in our school, positions have changed over time.
“Our governor has certainly changed his position on a variety of issues,” Stefanowski said. “I would encourage her to change her stance on parental notification of abortion.”
Stefanowski supports parental notification. Lamont does not, preferring Connecticut’s current requirement for counseling minors seeking abortion, which includes a suggestion of parental involvement.
At his first press event since testing positive 10 days ago for COVID-19, Stefanowski spoke to reporters at Tuxis-Ohr’s, a supplier of heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel. .
By law, the state’s diesel tax should be recalculated by July 1, with an increase of at least 10 cents per gallon expected. Stefanowski said the state should suspend the existing diesel tax of about 40 cents per gallon and then cap it at that level when it’s collected again.
Tuxis delivers approximately 15 million gallons of diesel per year, all to customers in Connecticut. The company serves one truck stop, which has an interstate customer base, but the rest of the customers are various businesses whose operations are intrastate, said Katie Childs, the company’s vice president.
The diesel tax increase will be passed on to consumers, as will a tax on highway use that is expected to come into effect in January. They come as other costs skyrocket, she said.
“We’ve never been in an environment like this,” Childs said.
An irony of the location of the event is that Connecticut currently has the cheapest gas prices in the Northeast – an average of $4,946 for a gallon of regular fuel, according to the AAA gas tracker.
To find cheaper gasoline, a motorist should drive south to Virginia or west to Iowa.
Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, said one of Tuxis’ customers is a gasoline retailer near Connecticut’s border with Massachusetts.
Sales there, he said, have doubled since Connecticut suspended its gas tax.