August 3, 2018
RACE FOR GOVERNOR

Stefanowski: I'm all business

Photo | New Haven Biz
Photo | New Haven Biz
Bob Stefanowski.

Bob Stefanowski's campaign for the Republican nomination for governor can be distilled into two words: cut taxes.

The former investment banker and corporate executive was in New Haven Friday morning to meet with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce in the last of that business group's series of candidates forums that began in June.

(Because the meeting was nominally off the record, no direct quotes from the session are used here.)

The 56-year-old Madison resident burnished his business credentials and "real-world" experience and pledged a private-sector approach to remedying Connecticut's budget crisis — a crisis he said was created by career politicians. If that's what you want more of, he told the Chamber audience, then Bob Stefanowski is not your guy.

To illustrate the depths of fiscal dysfunction to which the state has sunk, he pointed to the Connecticut Welcome Centers on Interstates 91, 84 and 95, which since September 2016 have been closed all but seven hours a day — including their indoor restrooms — to travelers.

Stefanowski's campaign centers on cutting taxes, including an eight-year plan to eliminate the state's income tax. Before the "temporary" levy was enacted in 1991 under the administration of Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., (Independent) Connecticut 's economy was the fastest-growing among all 50 states. Now, he said, it's the slowest.

Stefanowski's tax plan also calls for elimination of the estate tax, which he characterized as "morally wrong." He also pledged to lower corporate taxes and exact a "bill of rights" for Connecticut taxpayers.

Stefanowski also promised that, if elected November 6, he would sign a pledge never to raise taxes.

For the business community, in addition to lowering the corporate tax rate, Stefanowski promised to ease regulatory burdens on private companies and incentivize Connecticut's institutions of higher education to turn out graduates with the business skills the corporate sector actually needs. The number-one reason General Electric fled Connecticut for Boston, he said, was "access to technology" that the Nutmeg State couldn't match.

Stefanowski also pushed private-sector approaches to the state's transportation system. He opposes the introduction of tolls on Connecticut's interstates, calling them "just another tax." State government also must seek ways to radically transform a broken mass-transit system. He called Metro-North a "classic monopoly" characterized by rising costs and declining service.

Stefanowski said he hated the fact that the 2018 Republican primary campaign "went negative." GOP rival David Stemerman went after Stefanowski early and aggressively for his alleged past dalliance with the Democratic Party and his "Payday Bob" TV spots accusing Stefanowski of preying on desperate workers with high-interest payday loans.

Stefanowski said he expected those kinds of attacks in a general-election campaign, but not in the primary. "Judging from the attacks on me," he said to a reporter after the Chamber session, "I must be ahead by 50 points."

Reach Michael C. Bingham at mbingham@newhavenbiz.com

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