Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and his campaign staff visited The Place 2 Be in West Hartford on Friday to highlight his small business record.
Former cable director Lamont said he understood the small business because it came from there, but his opponent, Republican Bob Stefanowski, said his actions did not match his words.
“These are not employees. These are not lines in an accounting book, these are people you live and die with, ”Lamont told Lamont Digital employees. Lamont sold his family’s cable business before running for governor in 2018.
As incumbent, Lamont is likely to take the blame for inflation, but he said inflation is a global problem and he must do what he can as governor. He said that is why the $ 600 million tax cuts are aimed at the middle class.
However, Stefanovski said that if this was true, then he should have paid off the debt of the unemployment trust fund and stopped taxes on gas and diesel. Lamont and the legislature have removed the 25-cent tax on gas prices by December 1st, but diesel is what is used to transport goods back and forth to these small businesses and is expected to rise on July 1st.
The state has not yet announced how much it will increase the diesel tax. And Lamont refused to defer the highway usage tax, which will take effect on January 1, 2023. The tax on medium and heavy trucks is expected to raise $ 90 million for the state’s special transport fund, which currently has a surplus of $ 200 million. dollars.
“He really lost the opportunity” to help small businesses, Stefanovski said.
“This special transport fund was working on steam,” Lamont said.
“I have no idea where gas prices will be in three months,” Lamont said. “We’ll look again at the end of the year.”
Lamont said he would rather reduce the gas tax than the highway tax if he had a choice. The highway usage tax was something of a consolation reward for failing to install highway tolls in his first year in office.
“I’m fed up with politicians making big cuts that create rocks and holes for others,” Lamont said. “Because this is the budget hole I inherited three years ago.”
As for the unemployment trust, Lamont said he thought he had made the right call. His focus is on paying off his pension debt, although he admits it’s much less sexy.
Stefanovski said businesses should not be punished for the state closing their businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And right now they are getting an extra amount for having to fire these people.
“Whether it’s small business or taxes, he has done enough to run an advertising campaign,” Stefanovski said.
Lamont said small business is where 90% of economic growth comes to fuel the Connecticut economy.
John Doyle, co-founder of New Park Brewery, said they were affected by inflation from the price of canned aluminum to the diesel that delivers beer to packaging stores.
“Just keeping an open line of communication between government and small business is the best thing for small business,” Doyle said.
Asked if he was worried about raising the diesel tax, “yes, it will definitely hurt us,” Doyle said.
Doyle said they have seen a shift in demand for packaging stores. Coming out of COVID, they saw an increase in pedestrian traffic in pubs.
“But they tell me that alcohol is elastic. “People drink when the times are good and when the times are bad,” he joked.
He said they are trying and doing their best to reduce costs without passing them on to their customers, “but there are so many things you can do.”
Gina Loiret, owner of The Place 2 Be, said that from home containers to chicken wings, inflation affects her business in different ways every day. She said they tried to keep their margins and not increase their menu prices.
“It really just shows our customer base that we will deal with them,” she added.
She said they did not have all the answers and were looking for their leaders to help them find a solution. She said the open line of communication was useful.
She said access to the Small Business Express program, approved through bipartisan legislation in 2011, was also beneficial in opening their second location. She said she could not get collateral from a bank.
Loiret already has four seats.