Tuesday is time to choose candidates for governor
By Eric Bedner email@example.com
Aug. 11, 2018
The field of seven candidates vying to become the state’s next governor will be whittled to two Tuesday as voters decide who will be on the ticket for each party.
The crowded Republican field includes Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, endorsed by the Republican State Convention as the party’s nominee; former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst; and Westbrook technology entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik.
Greenwich resident and former hedge fund manager David Stemerman and Madison financial executive Bob Stefanowski, who are self-funding their campaigns, round out the Republican field.
Seeking the Democratic nomination are the convention-endorsed candidate, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, and Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who is seeking the state’s highest office after serving a federal prison sentence for corruption.
Whoever is elected in November will face a multibillion-dollar deficit in the coming years. Several candidates are focused on cutting government and making changes to the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement in order to find savings. And despite the state’s fiscal woes, several candidates are vowing to cut taxes in an effort to gain support.
Boughton, who aims to phase out the income tax within 10 years, claims he has found billions of dollars in cuts that can be made in the state budget, and that he has found potential savings after a review of the SEBAC agreement, by minimally making changes for new hires.
Stefanowski says he will work to eliminate the state income tax over eight years, making up the difference by cutting the size of government and restructuring the SEBAC deal.
Income tax repeal?
Obstinik said eliminating the income tax is “a bunch of nonsense,” but he is proposing eliminating the estate tax and taxation of pensions and Social Security, as well as reducing taxes for those making $100,000 or less and phasing out the corporate and business entity taxes over three years.
Additionally, he said, all new state employees should be put on 401(k) plans with increased contributions to health care to close the state’s pension funding gap.
Stemerman said he would reduce the income tax, offsetting the lost revenue by privatizing trains and airports, including Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.
He stresses, however, that tax cuts cannot be made without first restructuring the state’s pension plans.
Herbst agrees that tax cuts are secondary to the state’s long-term liabilities, which he said will require state employees to contribute more to their retirements, while new hires are placed in defined contribution plans.
After that, Herbst said, he would propose eliminating the estate and income tax for people making $75,000 per year or less, as well as a reducing the corporate tax rate to promote economic growth.
Stefanowski has vowed to phase out the corporate income tax and business entity tax over two years, phase out the personal income tax over eight years, and eliminate gift and estate taxes immediately.
Lamont has been a staunch supporter of closing the gender wage gap, paid family and medical leave, protecting against sexual harassment in the workplace, and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Guns are an issue
Ganim is calling for the state to ban 3D printed firearms, often referred to as “ghost guns,” because they are untraceable by law enforcement. He has pledged to use an executive order to ban ghost guns, which can be purchased in kits through the mail.
Likewise, Lamont said, he would push for what he calls common-sense gun legislation, including strengthening existing laws, closing loopholes, banning rate-of-fire enhancements known as “bump stocks,” and outlawing ghost guns.
All Republican candidates say that federal law is clear regarding a ban on firearms that do not have serial numbers, which includes 3D printed guns.
However, due to their vocal support for the Second Amendment, Herbst and Stefanowski have each received the highest rating from the National Rifle Association, while Boughton, Stemerman, Lamont, and Ganim received the lowest.
The NRA hasn’t rated Obstitnik.
While Ganim and Lamont have been critical of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan to spend $10 million on a highway toll study, neither has completely ruled out tolls as a revenue source.
All Republican candidates have said that they wouldn’t support tolls, calling them just another tax.
All back abortion rights
With the pending appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and the potential for abortion to once again be criminalized, all of the Republican candidates for governor say that the state’s law protecting a woman’s right to choose would not be changed under their leadership.
Herbst and Stefanowski, however, said they would push for parental consent and notification in the case of minors seeking abortion.
While he is personally against marijuana use, Herbst said, the issue of legalization should be left up to voters and be put on a statewide ballot.
The remaining candidates say there are too many unknowns related to recreational marijuana use and wouldn’t push for its legalization.
Ganim has said Connecticut should do everything possible to preserve women’s access to reproductive health care, including amending the state constitution to guarantee women have the right to abortions.
Likewise, Lamont has promised to maintain the state’s laws that protect a woman’s right to choose.