Group formed to lower property taxes

February 18, 2019

The man responsible for recommending the personal income tax in 1991 is now heading a non-profit aimed at making the state’s tax structure more progressive.

William A. Cibes, co-chairman of the new Tax Policy Collaborative, was secretary of the Office of Policy and Management when he persuaded then-first-term Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. to push for an income tax in order to tackle the state’s billion-dollar deficit.

For up-to-date information on public policy issues, sign up for the CT Politics newsletter.

“Our primary focus is to significantly reduce the share of total state and local revenue collected from property taxes, and to do so in a way that advances economic growth and minimizes adverse land decisions,” said Cibes, who is also the former head of the Connecticut State University Sstem.

During his successful run as an independent in 1990, Weicker proclaimed that an income tax would be “like pouring gasoline on a fire.” But the hefty deficit left him by Democrat William A. O’Neill forced Weicker to accept Cibes’ idea, which led to a nearly year-long fight in the General Assembly before Weicker and Cibes won.

The collaborative, with a goal of making tax policy fairer, has formed at a time when local property taxes are responsible for nearly 42 percent of all state and local revenue.

“This year has been described as a fiscal crossroads for Connecticut, and we’re hoping to help Connecticut steer in a better direction,” said Susan Merrow, Cibes’ co-chairman, who is also chairman of the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality. Other members of the group include state and local officials, including Alex Knopp, a former state lawmaker and mayor of Norwalk who is a Yale Law School lecturer; and Bill Curry, a former state comptroller and failed Democratic candidate for governor.

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT