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Boughton for Governor Announces First Round of Endorsements

Leaders from across Connecticut are ready for the Connecticut Comeback

Hartford – Mark Boughton is honored to announce the following endorsements from across Connecticut in support of his Gubernatorial campaign:

Elected Officials

Former Lt. Governor Michael Fedele – Stamford
State Sen. Michael McLachlan – 24th District (Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman)
State Rep. Holly Cheeseman – 37th District (East Lyme, Salem)
State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky – 106th District (Newtown, Monroe)
State Rep. Will Duff – 2nd District (Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, Redding)
State Rep. Michael Ferguson – 138th District (Danbury, New Fairfield, Ridgefield)
State Rep. Stephen Harding – 107th District (Brookfield, Bethel, Danbury)
State Rep. David Labriola – 131st District (Naugatuck, Oxford, Southbury)
State Rep. Richard Smith – 108th District (Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Sherman)
State Rep. Bill Buckbee – 67th District (New Milford)
Mayor Pete Bass – New Milford
Mayor Elinor Carbone – Torrington
Mayor Daniel Champagne – Vernon
First Selectman Laura Francis – Durham
First Selectman Leo Paul – Litchfield
First Selectman Lori Spielman – Ellington
Selectman Les Pinter – Bridgewater
Selectman Alesia Kennerson – New Hartford
Deputy First Selectman Len Greene Jr.- Seymour
Minority Leader, Board of Aldermen Steven Giacomi – Waterbury

Republican Grassroots Leaders

Republican State Central Committee Member Arthur Mannion – 24th District (Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman)
Republican State Central Committee Member Thomas Torre – 20th District (Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Waterford)
Republican State Central Committee Member Paul Smith – 7th District (East Granby, Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks, Granby, Windsor)
Republican State Central Committee Member Robert Hall – 28th District (Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, Westport)
Republican State Central Committee Member Casimir Mizera – 23rd District (Bridgeport, Stratford)

Former State Rep. & Present Republican Town Committee Chairman Robert Heagney – Simsbury
Republican Town Committee Chairman David Kelsey – Old Lyme
Republican Town Committee Chairman Louis DeCilio – Stratford
Republican Town Chairman Robert Kleinhans – East Lyme
Republican Town Committee Chairman Robert Hurd – Vernon
Republican Town Committee Chairman Jack Knapp – Danbury
Republican Town Committee Chairman Anna McGuire – North Canaan

“I am honored to have the support of such a broad array of Republican leaders from across Connecticut,” said Boughton. “Our campaign to revitalize our state and restore pride in Connecticut by implementing common sense, Republican principles will put us back on the winning path. I’ve done it as the Mayor of Danbury, and I will do it again for the people of the state of Connecticut.”


EXCLUSIVE: Boughton, Hitting Fundraising “Milestone,” Gets Down to Business on “Big Ideas”

January 19, 2018
By Staff- Reclaim CT

“Nobody brings the experience that we bring to this race,” Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury) said. “We are putting together a program of initiatives with big ideas.”

Boughton has more time for “big ideas” in his gubernatorial campaign, now that he hit the coveted threshold for the Citizens Election Program (CEP). Hitting CEP marks means Boughton is ‘freed up,’ as he put it, “to do more besides fundraising.”

It’s “a real milestone for us,” Boughton said.

SOMEONE “PEOPLE CAN IDENTIFY”

In a Friday morning interview with Reclaim Connecticut, Boughton clearly had his eye on a long election ahead, listing off what he thinks makes him the best candidate for governor.

“I served in the legislature for two terms,” Boughton said. “I understand the process, I understand how it works.”

“I’m a small business owner, I taught high school, I was in the military,” he continued. “I think people can identify that and understand that.”

“We did the rich guy thing,” Boughton said, an apparent reference to Tom Foley’s two failed campaigns for governor. Now “we’ve got to appeal a broad base of votes.”

“BIG IDEAS”

Of course, Boughton’s biggest idea so far, one he discussed with Reclaim Connecticut in 2017, is eliminating the income tax in Connecticut.

Boughton gave more details on the plan to Reclaim Connecticut on Friday.

“It’s not just about getting rid of the revenue, it’s about reorganizing state government,” Boughton said. The income tax will be a “10-year phase out,” Boughton said, because “we’ve gotta make sure that all these other pieces are in line here,” including the requisite spending cuts.

“And it’s really about enhancing growth in the state, and encouraging growth in the state,” Boughton said.

SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN?

Reclaim Connecticut also asked Boughton about the prospect of a federal government shutdown.

“Republicans are more willing to compromise than people realize,” Boughton said. “Chuck Schumer’s putting interests and needs of people who are not here legally over children who are here legally.”

That said, Boughton said Congress needs to “hammer down an agreement on the DREAMers, hammer down an agreement on spending.”

Of a shutdown, the Danbury mayor said “I didn’t like it when it happened under President Obama. I don’t like it now.”

STAFFING UP

The mayor’s not the only one who’s busy. The campaign’s also humming along, and staffing up.

On Thursday, Boughton tapped Marc Dillon, a former chief of staff to Mayor John Harkins (R-Stratford), to run his campaign.

Boughton also announced the promotion of Lindsay Jacobs, from finance director to deputy campaign manager.

John Kleinhans rounds out the staff, as senior advisor.


Boughton makes run for governor official

By Rob Ryser Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DANBURY — Mayor Mark Boughton on his first day as a declared gubernatorial candidate touted his idea to phase out the state income tax and streamline Connecticut’s government as the sort of leadership voters want.

“Now I know what you are saying — ‘That’s impossible. It can’t be done’ — but the fact of the matter is the times demand that we think differently and we think outside of the bureaucratic box when it comes to how we govern our state,” Boughton said during a Tuesday news conference. “I believe that our financial distress that I call the death spiral in the state of Connecticut can only be fixed by a radical approach to how we govern.”

For example, Boughton said the Board of Regents had “basically become a dumping ground for political appointments for people who, frankly, couldn’t find a job in the private sector,” and could save the state as much as $10 million if eliminated.

“The state income tax is about $7.5 billion in revenue every two years, and the assumption everybody has is you need that money to run government,” Boughton said. “Part of our plan is to reduce the size and scope of state government with things like eliminating departments, combining departments and a wholesale reorganization of pretty much everything.”

The 53-year-old Republican, who is serving a record ninth term as mayor, made his third run for the state’s highest office in as many elections official at the brief and formal news news conference at the Courtyard Marriott. He later attended an hourlong rally for supporters in the evening at the Palace Theatre in downtown Danbury.

State Democrats were ready for his announcement on Tuesday with a lengthy statement from party Chairman Nick Balletto that was critical of Boughton’s record on immigration and his allegiance with parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“Mark Boughton is nothing more than a cut out of Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” the statement said. “Boughton’s record shows he’d bring Trump’s agenda to Connecticut: divisive attacks on immigrant communities, an NRA anti-safety agenda on guns and a record of opposition to a woman’s right to choose.”

A Boughton campaign spokesman dismissed the statement as “laughable.”

“No amount of misinformation or spin can save the Connecticut Democrats from their abysmal record of ruining our state,” said John Kleinhans.

Boughton did take one question after his Tuesday announcement about the Trump effect on Connecticut’s 2018 gubernatorial race, but the Danbury mayor redirected it at unpopular incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not seeking re-election.

“[T]here is a consensus in the state, based on the latest polling, that Gov. Malloy hurt the Democrats more than Donald Trump could ever hurt the Republicans,” Boughton said. “At the end of the day, this election is about Connecticut — not the national conversation that is going on.”

Boughton’s first test as a declared candidate for the GOP nomination comes Wednesday at a Republican debate in Hebron.

As many as 10 GOP hopefuls could attend, including state Sen. Toni Boucher, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, Fairfield immigration lawyer Peter Lumaj and former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker.

Boughton said he would emerge as the most electable GOP candidate — in part because he has already raised the minimum $250,000 in small donations needed to qualify for millions in state public campaign financing.

Lack of financing was the reason Boughton dropped out of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

With the funding hurdle cleared, state residents should expect to hear from Boughton about his economic plan over the winter and spring months.

“In my first year of office we are going to reduce 15 percent of all executive order regulations that impact the business environment, and we are going to stop doing things like raiding the special transportation fund that is supposed to be used to fix our highways, bridges and roads,” Boughton said Tuesday. “We are going to rebuild our relationship with our businesses across the state of Connecticut.”

He added that he planned to implement “a pro-growth approach to our economy.”

“I want to create a one-stop permit center for the state of Connecticut, where you could be issued your permit in a matter of weeks instead of a matter of years,” Boughton said.

The mayor also answered a question about his health. In August, Boughton underwent emergency life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumor.

He emerged from that experience a changed man, he said. Some 300 guests at an annual business luncheon in December saw that when Boughton chose to close his state-of-the-city speech on a decidedly religious note, saying “There are no atheists in the ICU.”

“I have been open and honest about the impact that type of surgery had on the way I look at people and the way I govern,” Boughton during Tuesday’s news conference, adding that he would be happy to provide health documents to substantiate his fitness. “I am 100 percent back, and I feel great — I certainly feel a lot better than before the surgery.”


Boughton Calls on Malloy to Sign an Executive Order Allowing Early Tax Payments

Boughton says Malloy choosing politics over helping middle-class families 

Today, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton demanded Governor Dan Malloy join the states of New York and New Jersey in ensuring institutions accept early tax payments before January 1, 2018 when new tax reform laws take effect.

“Signing an executive order is a great way to help families save money. Because Connecticut has such a high tax burden, we are not benefiting from the tax relief that the rest of the country is going to receive. Governor Malloy has a chance to lend a hand to working families and he has decided to snub them for the sake of petty politics. This is simply not right,” said Boughton. “What’s clear is that Dan Malloy has chosen once again to ignore the struggling people of Connecticut. It’s time for new leadership. We need someone who is focused on our resident’s needs,” added Boughton.

Issuing an executive order for all municipalities to accept early payments creates a uniformity through our state, and enables our residents to reduce their tax burden. The choice to prepay taxes should be available to all residents regardless of where they live.


Boughton back at work at Danbury City Hall

DANBURY – Don’t be surprised if Mayor Mark Boughton says something surprising as the November election season matures, and he makes a decision about a 2018 gubernatorial run.

Emergency life-saving brain surgery can affect a man that way.

“I do think there is a message here about how to look at things – differently,” said Boughton on Monday, his first official day back at City Hall after treatment to remove a benign brain tumor. “I have always thought I have been very compassionate, but this has taught me things.”

For now that is as specific as the eight-term Republican wants to be about how getting a second chance at 53 has affected him as a politician.

A man of faith, Boughton has been candid with The News-Times about crying and praying for forgiveness the night before his surgery as he felt the weight of his life upon him.

On Monday, Boughton said he has been prayerfully reexamining his life since Aug. 8, when a surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center removed a lemon-sized cyst from his brain.

“Those are long days when you’re alone – I mean my sisters were there and they were awesome – but I was in ICU and they could only be there for two hours at a clip,” Boughton said. “You are alone a lot and you start thinking about all this stuff.”

Boughton appeared refreshed and collected in a blue tweed sports coat and a new scar curving above his left ear. His third-floor office at City Hall was decked with a welcome-back banner, balloons and get-well cards.

He grew teary-eyed several times during a brief, mid-morning interview, once after the sight of his clapping staff, and again as he returned to the theme he referred to as the bigger picture.

“I didn’t get called home, so I may be looking at things a little differently,” he said, sitting down to a desk of presents and papers to sign. “I am going to think about it some more, and when issues arise you very well could hear something different from me than you have heard before.”

Boughton, one of the GOP’s leading candidates for governor, plans to decide whether to run after the November 7 mayoral election, where he is seeking an unprecedented ninth two-year term.

A self-described compassionate conservative, Boughton is the second top-tier GOP gubernatorial contender to undergo serious surgery this year. In the spring Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst had surgery to treat thyroid cancer.

Boughton’s first priority is to get back to full strength – a goal that may take no longer than one month to reach, he said, by gradually increasing exercise and workload.

Although he is not yet back to work full-time, Boughton said he is back in spirit 100 percent.

The mayor’s fans, who know he likes to joke, sensed he was back to his old self last week, when he appeared for his usual Thursday morning radio spot and said he needed brain surgery like he needed a hole in the head.

The truth is Boughton started telling jokes as he came out of anesthesia.

“I was coming out of it with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist and nurses, and I was making jokes but they weren’t making any sense, except to my sisters,” Boughton said on Monday. “So my sisters, who have been with me for 50 years, knew what I was trying to say and they were laughing, but the doctor is like ‘Oh, no. What did I do?’”


 

Boughton: Income tax phase-out is one piece of 10-year plan

Danbury — As he explores seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, Mayor Mark Boughton is standing out in a crowded field by testing a message not seriously proffered in two decades: a call for elimination of the state’s income tax.It’s his third time looking at a run for Connecticut’s top office — and his first as a candidate who suggests the state could live without the current source of nearly half its revenue, $9 billion in a state that spends $20 billion on state government, public assistance and local aid.

Boughton is proposing a gradual phase-out of the income tax over several years as one component of a 10-year “pro-growth” strategy that he says he will unveil piecemeal over the next four to six months. He doesn’t come close to explaining what would replace it, but suggests it’s time for a new fiscal debate.

“Connecticut is the Land of Steady Habits,” Boughton said. “Well, we’ve seen where our steady habits have gotten us – billions of dollars of deficits, billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities and Aetna and GE leaving the state and many, many more to follow.”

“The fact of the matter is, Connecticut was successful when we didn’t have an income tax,” he said.

Boughton has offered some rough ideas on the other components he believes could be incorporated into the full plan, including deep government spending cuts and significant labor savings. He offers no specifics on what new revenue he finds preferable to a tax on income.

“If it’s part of a comprehensive approach, you may have to flatten some taxes,” Boughton told the CT Mirror. “Maybe some of the strategies we used prior to the income tax, we may have to go back to some of those things.”

Connecticut had an income tax long before the broad-based tax on wages was adopted in 1991. It applied to capital gains, interest and dividends, just not wages. The tax was 7 percent on capital gains and as much as 14 percent on interest and dividends. The sales tax was 8 percent.

Would Boughton return to those rates?

His campaign says he has not made any decisions on taxes at this point beyond elimination of the income tax.

Boughton, the eight-term Republican mayor of Connecticut’s fastest growing city, said he is bringing “innovative and creative ideas” to the table – the same process that he says led to his success in growing business and industry in Danbury. He is running for a ninth term this year while exploring a bid for governor.

Before his election as Danbury’s mayor in 2001, he won two terms in the state House of Representatives, which he says gives him the combination of executive and legislative experience.

After failing to raise enough funds to qualify for public financing in 2014, he declined to pursue the GOP gubernatorial nomination in a primary, despite winning enough support at the state convention to make it onto the ballot.

He explored a run for governor in 2010, but settled for becoming the nominee for lieutenant governor.

Boughton said he began exploring another campaign for governor as early as he did this year to get a head start on fundraising. He remains near the front of the pack with about $162,000 raised through the first two quarters of 2017, but other Republicans – both declared and exploring – made significant gains on him in the second quarter.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, a declared candidate, has raised $145,000 since April. Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury, also a declared candidate, has topped $200,000.

Boughton said if he reaches his target of qualifying for public financing by January, he will formally declare his candidacy.

A controversial proposal

Boughton’s critics have decried elimination of the income tax as politically and economically unrealistic given the state’s budgetary challenges. The last major party nominee to call for the repeal of the income tax was John Rowland in 1994.

A prolific tweeter, Boughton responded to one critic who asked if more details about the income tax repeal would be made available.

“Sure. When I am actually a candidate. This is a vision,” he replied.

Boughton said those asking for more details now should realize he does not have the staff of the governor’s budget office working for his campaign. He said the pieces will be released as the details are worked out.

The proposal to phase out the income tax, which he made last month, comes amid a years-long budget squeeze, and state officials and lawmakers are now grappling with multibillion-dollar annual deficits.

Lawmakers have yet to agree to a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Boughton said state leaders are muddled because they are stuck in an “old way” of thinking – that the baseline should be $20 billion in spending. He said both the House and Senate Republican budget proposals fail to break away from that mindset, and don’t go far enough.

Still, Boughton said he knows his plan is “counterintuitive.” A gradual phaseout rather than an outright elimination, he said, gives him the time to shrink government and win major labor concessions to keep the state budget in balance.

The current deadlock, of course, shows neither is easy.

He said he is counting on being able to achieve significant labor savings when contracts for state employee union benefits expire in 2022. That may not be possible, however, if union members and legislators agree to a concessions deal that would extend the benefits contacts through 2027. Voting is ongoing and results are expected Monday.

He said ratification of the deal would set back his timetable for phasing out the income tax.

Boughton also said he plans to shrink state agencies by eliminating high-paid bureaucrats, which he said include deputy commissioners and spokesmen.

He envisions making up the remainder of the difference through increased revenue from the sales tax as state residents have more take-home pay to spend. New businesses relocating to Connecticut would bring more economic vitality, he says.

Boughton said the nine states without an income tax have experienced the kind of economic growth Connecticut needs.

“For anybody that argues that it’s a stunt, I’d say I would point to the other nine states that are doing exceptionally well, or just ask them to talk to any of your friends, and you tell me where they say they’re going to retire to – because it’s not Connecticut,” he said.

Short-term pain, potential roadblocks

But Boughton said he understands that with smaller, leaner government comes pain. Phasing out the income tax would make the task of building a balanced budget more onerous each year. And programs that some of the state’s neediest rely on may not see their current funding levels maintained.

He said under his plan, perhaps more than ever, the state would need to prioritize its spending on public education, public safety and programs that provide people “an opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty.”

And allocating money for even the most basic services could grow more difficult if the federal government adopts policies that would mean billions of dollars less for Connecticut in coming years.

The Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Act Care could prove to be one of the costliest blows to the state if it passes. Under the first draft of the repeal-and-replace plan released by Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate, the state would be hit with a $2.9 billion annual cut to Medicaid funding by 2026, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office estimates.

That’s why Boughton says he does not support the legislation in its current form, though he made clear he does not believe the Affordable Care Act is working.

“I think there is definitely an argument among states that have expanded their Medicaid, that to go back from that would be catastrophic,” he said. “Ohio has that problem. Some other places have that problem. And Ohio has a Republican governor. We’ll have to see how all that plays out. But whatever comes out of that, we’ll certainly tailor our program to that.”

Even if these pitfalls are avoided, Boughton has no illusions that enacting his strategy would be easy.

“The first four years will be very difficult implementing some of things that we’ve talked about,” Boughton said. “We’ll have our share of battles, because it is going to require some pain. But with pain, we bring real tax relief and growth to our economy.”


Mark Boughton: A Plan to Phase Out the Income Tax

It’s not surprising Aetna has decided to move its corporate headquarters out of Hartford, but the lack of surprise does not make it less of a jolt to our state’s failing economy. Meanwhile, the same old refrain regarding tolls, the legalization of recreational marijuana, and “taxing the rich” for more revenue keeps coming from media pundits and politicians at the Capitol.

Connecticut faces a budget crisis and our residents often must choose between suffering or moving out of state. The situation has become unsustainable. Before we can fix the problem, we must understand how Connecticut ended up in this position.

Connecticut flourished as a state without an income tax. Our cities thrived, our population grew, people had good jobs that supported a family and the most vulnerable had a safety net they could count on.

The state income tax is the primary driver of Connecticut becoming less competitive and less affordable. According to published reports, more than 235,000 people have left our state, taking $13.7 billion in taxable income with them. This trend seems to verify the old adage, “you can’t tax your way to prosperity.”

Like it or not, Connecticut is in a regional competition with states like Massachusetts and New York for jobs, and the businesses that create those opportunities. Since the implementation of the state income tax, Connecticut has become less affordable for residents and much more anti-business than our neighboring states. When Massachusetts seems like a tax haven compared to Connecticut, you know we have a tax issue that we must wrap our collective arms around.

For the last 40 years, the Democrats have controlled the state legislature and have recklessly spent the state’s tax revenues. In 1991-92, the state budget totaled $7.6 billion. The 2016-2017 budget clocked in at $19.76 billion. Even after adjusting for inflation, this explosion in government spending has been devastating to our state’s economy. This outrageous spending was made possible by the implementation of the state income tax.

How can we afford to repeal the income tax? Connecticut must acknowledge that this a critical moment for our state. Under our current tax structure, we are in a perpetual state of financial crisis. We have an opportunity to dramatically reshape state government, including eliminating the income tax. The writing is on the wall and our current path is clearly unsustainable. The reality is we cannot afford to keep this tax in place. Nothing short of bold leadership and dramatic change will stop the bleeding.

Nine states thrive without an income tax. According to Forbes Magazine, economic growth in those states grew nearly 50 percent faster between 1998-2008 than it did in the nine states with the highest top personal income tax rates. Job growth climbed more than twice as fast in those states without income taxes, compared to the states with the top income tax rates. We need to look at these success stories and implement similar fiscal policies here in Connecticut to get our economy moving.

Many will argue that eliminating the income tax will unfairly benefit the wealthy, but the opposite is true. When the income tax was implemented, it shifted the tax burden from our wealthiest residents onto the middle class because the income tax replaced the capital gains tax of 7 percent, as well as 14 percent tax on major interest. Promises that the income tax would reduce property taxes never materialized, only adding to the pain of Connecticut’s families. Simply put, eliminating the income tax will benefit all of Connecticut’s residents regardless of socioeconomic status.

We need to focus on core state government services such as plowing highways, educating our youth, keeping people safe and ensuring that those who cannot care for themselves receive the help they need. I have always been an advocate of these core government services and that will not change. When we talk about innovation and reform one example that should be employed is the creation of an education equity fund that would remove state education dollars away from the political process and toward a more impartial procedure.

There is no simple, painless way with which to eliminate the state income tax. But I am committed to working with the best and brightest to restore Connecticut to its former glory. Our plan to eliminate the income tax is a comprehensive approach. It redesigns and reorganizes state government and examines the nexus between municipalities and the state.

Connecticut is a great place to raise a family and we have wonderful schools and tremendous talent. We need to get back to a sustainable, and most importantly attractive, pathway forward. I am willing to ask the tough questions and to have the hard conversations.

Mark Boughton, a Republican eight-term mayor of Danbury, is exploring a run for statewide office in 2018.


Boughton pushes for state income tax repeal

Mark Boughton is molding himself as the anti-Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

The longtime Danbury mayor — trying to separate himself from a pack of Republicans with gubernatorial ambitions — wants to abolish the state income tax ushered in by Weicker a quarter-century ago.

Connecticut has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, said Boughton, who blamed the income tax for the exodus of residents and businesses to other states. Since it came onto the books, he said, the state has lost $13.7 billion in net adjusted gross income.

Boughton would offset lost income-tax revenue with a downsizing of state government and regionalization of some municipal services.

“Obviously, one only has to look at companies like Aetna and GE,” he said. “I recently met with some portfolio managers in lower Fairfield County. Probably 70 to 80 percent of them are leaving.”

Boughton’s Reaganesque vision of tax cuts spurring economic growth coincides with an impasse between Republicans and Democrats over how to close a $5 billion, two-year state budget deficit.

The concept quickly drew plaudits and skepticism during a recent rollout by Boughton, who is raising money for a presumptive run for governor in 2018, in what would be his third shot at the state’s top office. The income tax accounts for $9 billion of the $15 billion in annual tax revenue collected by the state.

“I tell Mark Boughton to get with the real world,” Weicker said. “We’re way past the point in this state where that’s in any way conceivable. All that’s going to mean is a huge sales tax, and that will really hurt the lower-income families in our state.”

History of Controversy

A former Republican who ascended to the governor’s office under the banner of A Connecticut Party, Weicker signed the income tax into law in 1991 with support from Democrats. Connecticut became the 41st state to levy an income tax, with the top marginal rate now at 7 percent for single filers with annual incomes over $500,000.

Weicker, a former U.S. senator and ex-Greenwich first selectman, said his immediate successor vowed to do the same as Boughton proposes.

“This is what John Rowland said he was going to do,” Weicker said. “I’m sure we’d all like to get rid of it. Just take a look at how much in debt we are with the income tax. You’re obviously going to have to raise corporate taxes, the very thing you’re trying to avoid.”

But Boughton’s stock among conservatives, led by CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, appeared to be on the uptick with his call to repeal the state income tax. The one-time Ronald Reagan budget guru and Redding resident tweeted “Right On!” at Boughton Monday night.

“It’s the right spirit,” Kudlow told Hearst Connecticut Media. “I don’t know if it’s the right precise policy. Whichever Republican runs in 2018, they’ve got to understand this: You’re not going to balance the budget or significantly reduce the deficit or, for that matter, attract new people and new businesses to the state unless you have growth-oriented tax cuts across the board. If the GOP runs root canal with Novocaine — just cutting the budget, cutting pensions for state workers and so forth — they’re not going to win.”

On top of the income tax, Kudlow said, taxes on corporations, property and inheritance, as well as regulations, make Connecticut one of the least competitive states.

“Who the hell wants to move to Connecticut?” Kudlow said. “It’s a tragedy. It’s a great state.”

S.E. Cupp, the conservative CNN talking head, also took notice of Boughton’s proposal.

“Yaaaassss, @MayorMark,” she tweeted Tuesday.

Boughton can use the additional exposure in a logjam of Republicans with gubernatorial hopes, which includes Tim Herbst, Trumbull’s first selectman; Peter Lumaj, the GOP’s 2014 nominee for secretary of the state; and Dave Walker, the former comptroller general under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Also on that list are Mark Lauretti, the longtime Shelton mayor; Prasad Srinivasan, a state representative from Glastonbury; Steve Obsitnik, a Westport businessman; Toni Boucher, a state senator from Wilton; and Joe Visconti, a former West Hartford councilman.

Themis Klarides and Len Fasano, the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate, haven’t ruled out running. Neither has Fasano’s predecessor, Fairfield’s John McKinney.

‘Here’s an opportunity’

Connecticut’s Republican Party boss from 2011 to 2015, Jerry Labriola Jr., said it takes courage to propose wholesale changes the way Boughton has.

“It’s bold, and not many candidates are willing to take bold positions,” Labriola said.

Looking to be the heir apparent to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not running for re-election, several Democrats are raising money for presumptive bids for the state’s top office. They include state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris and former prosecutor Chris Mattei.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. haven’t shut the door, either.

“Like many Republicans, Mark (Boughton) is doubling down on a trickle-down economic theory that’s never worked,” said Drew, head of the state’s Democratic mayors group. “If you ended the state income tax, particularly for the wealthiest people among us, then state deficits will explode even further and it will lead to the dissolution of many public services, including safety and education. It will hurt the economy in the long run.”

Lembo, the chief fiscal guardian of the state, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

Should Boughton go from exploratory phase to a full-fledged candidate, he said, he will unveil a framework for eliminating the income tax and recalibrating state government.

“If you exist and live in the current status quo, you’re going to look at it and go, ‘where are we going to find $9 billion?’ ” Boughton said. “That’s part of the problem. The vision of the candidates in the field right now can’t see past the huge looming deficits to say, ‘Hey, wait here’s an opportunity.’ ”

But Boughton’s skeptics say that until the mayor fleshes out his proposal, it’s a leap of faith.

“Unless he’s got some other plan to magically raise money or eliminate the vast majority of the state spending, I don’t see how it could be viable,” said David Cadden, a professor emeritus in the School of Business at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. “It would put (the state) in bankruptcy.”

nvigdor@hearstmediact.com; 203-625-4436; http://twitter.com/gettinviggy

 

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