CHRIS POWELL: Lamont's appeal on abortion won't lure Texas businesses

Published on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 20:33

While he tries to be a moderate Democratic governor and indeed is more moderate than his predecessor, Ned Lamont still feels obliged to make regular obeisance to his party's left wing, which constitutes a majority of the party's activists. So last week the governor posted on his social media channels a minute-long video encouraging businesses in states that are restricting abortion to relocate to Connecticut.

Connecticut, the governor said, is "family friendly" and its liberal abortion law "respects" women.

The new abortion law in Texas is not just almost prohibitive but bizarre, delegating enforcement to civil lawsuits for damages. But it would not have been enacted if Texas was not full of women whose idea of respect includes protecting what they call the pre-born. The women of Texas are fully capable of getting the law repealed.

In the meantime Connecticut's pitching businesses in Texas and other states restricting abortion is ridiculous, as is a similar appeal made to Texas businesses last week by Chicago's economic development agency, which placed an advertisement in the Dallas Morning News.

The Chicago agency's chief executive, Michael Fassnacht, told Bloomberg News: "We believe that the values of the city you are doing business in matter more than ever before." But of course the "values" of Chicago encompass scores of shootings and dozens of murders almost every weekend, while the "values" of Illinois include the country's worst insolvency.

Connecticut does not have the violent crime of Chicago, nor is Connecticut quite as insolvent as Illinois. Connecticut has advantages of climate, geography, and culture. But in friendliness to business, Texas clobbers Connecticut and Illinois, having no corporate and personal income taxes while Connecticut and Illinois have both.

The Tax Foundation says the personal tax burden in Connecticut and Illinois is above 10% but is only 7.6% in Texas. That is, Connecticut's personal tax burden is almost a third higher than that of Texas.

Not surprisingly, Texas long has been gaining population relative to the rest of the country while Connecticut has been losing.

With such a differential in taxes, even Texas businesses opposed to the new abortion law might save so much money by staying put and not relocating to Connecticut that they could afford to pay for their employees to come to Connecticut for abortions every year.

No amount of the governor's pandering to his party's left wing will make Connecticut's high taxes "family friendly."

Nevertheless, higher taxes well may be on the way for Connecticut, since the governor and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly seem inclined to revive in a special legislative session what they call the Transportation Climate Initiative. The plan would raise wholesale taxes on gasoline so the added burden wouldn't be as visible as the retail tax and would claim that the new revenue would be spent on transportation projects that reduce pollution.

But the state is already rolling in emergency federal money and billions more in federal "infrastructure" appropriations may arrive soon, so Connecticut hardly needs more gas tax money.

Raising gas taxes will be most burdensome to the poor and middle class even as inflation is already roaring and eroding their living standards. Further, it would be unusual if any money raised by state government in the name of transportation wasn't diverted.

With its taxes already so high, state government needs mainly to set better priorities.

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PRISONS NOT NEEDED?: Last week Governor Lamont announced with some pleasure that his administration will close another prison, the one in Montville, because the state's prison population is declining so much.

When the announcement was made four people had just been shot in separate incidents in Hartford over the Labor Day weekend, making nine shootings there for the previous week. There had just been four shootings in New Haven as well. The day before the prison announcement a Hartford man, a chronic offender, earned his 14th conviction and was sent back to prison.

The rise in violent crime and the failure to deter repeat offenders could make prison closings seem premature.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. 

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 20:33. Updated: Wednesday, 15 September 2021 20:35.