Lamont’s budget chief pick says there’s no food tax proposal

February 5, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s choice for state budget director told lawmakers Tuesday there is no official proposal to tax food, assuring them she understands the concerns of struggling residents.

Melissa McCaw, nominated by the new Democratic governor to oversee the Office of Policy and Management, was asked about the idea of ending the exemption from the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax for food during a confirmation hearing. McCaw told members of the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee that Lamont has not yet put forth a budget, so there’s no formalized proposed tax on food.

“Every idea is currently being considered. We have not locked in the final decision. His package will reflect his values,” said McCaw, adding how the perspective of people struggling financially in Connecticut “will be at the table when decisions are being finalized” on a new two-year budget. Lamont is scheduled to publicly unveil his plan on Feb. 20.

Lamont had asked his budget officials to present him with various tax scenarios. Both Democrats and Republicans have balked at the idea of ending the sales tax exemption on groceries.

“I will not vote to increase the sales tax and certainly not put it on groceries,” said Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, who said he worries about how lower and middle-income people across the state are trying to make ends meet.

McCaw, the former chief financial officer for the city of Hartford, reminded Godfrey she came from “humble beginnings” and that the challenges of the average person resonate strongly with her.

“I always have the lens of the mom who is struggling to buy food,” she said.

McCaw and four other top Lamont nominees received preliminary confirmation by committee members on Tuesday. They now await final confirmation by the full House of Representatives or Senate. The other nominees include Lamont’s choices to lead the Departments of Children and Families; Energy and Environmental Protection; Emergency Services and Public Protection; and Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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