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8th District Candidates Qualify for Citizen’s Election Program

September 13, 2014 Politics, State Capitol No Comments
Melissa Osborne

Melissa Osborne

Kevin Witkos

Kevin Witkos

Republican state Sen. Kevin Witkos and his Democratic Challenger Melissa Osborne have both qualified for the Citizen’s Election Program for the Nov. 4 election.

To qualify, candidates are required to raise $15,000 in small contributions from at least 300 donors that reside in district towns. Grants for qualified CEP senatorial candidates in the general election are $94,690 and the candidates are now prohibited from accepting contributions from state contractors, PACs or other special interests. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: Making Connecticut Affordable for Everyone

Kevin Witkos

Kevin Witkos

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

This past Labor Day gave us all an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the history and value of the American worker. Labor Day is also a holiday during which a lot of political rhetoric about employment and wages emerges. And unfortunately, many of the claims I heard over the weekend here in Connecticut miss the bigger labor issues at play.

For example, I read one op-ed this week from Representative Peter Tercyak, the chair of the legislature’s Labor Committee, which I saw as particularly out of touch.

His article, published by the CT Mirror, touted his support for a bill that would fine large companies and franchises if they do not pay their employees at least 130 percent of the minimum wage. He also argued that Connecticut’s new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour still wasn’t good enough – despite it being one of the highest wage increases in the entire country. He cited a new report by the Alliance for a Just Society which claims that a living wage for a single adult in Connecticut is about $19 an hour, and that jumps to $29 an hour for a single parent with a school-age child.

That logic, and those numbers, scare me. And they should scare you too.

I strongly support making Connecticut a more affordable place to live, work and raise a family. I think our families face too many burdens that make it extremely difficult to afford everyday expenses. But I can tell you that forcing employers to raise the minimum wage right now is not the way to help. And fining them for refusing to pay more than the minimum wage sends the wrong message. I can also tell you that a $19-$29 minimum wage will without a doubt force countless businesses to close up shop, hurting the workers they employ.

Sure, it would be great to have a $100 an hour minimum wage if we could. But how can we expect employers, who are struggling to maintain – let alone grow – their businesses, pay for yet another huge increase? If wages go up, something else has got to give to keep businesses afloat. Some businesses may have to cut jobs so they can afford to pay their staff. Some may increase prices on their goods and services so they can stay in business. That means more issues for all families across the state.

The real way to help make Connecticut more affordable is to eliminate the burdens on families and create an environment where jobs can flourish.

Connecticut is currently ranked #1 in annual tax burden by the Tax Foundation – a problem that drags both families and employers down. If we give businesses the tools they need to grow and thrive, more jobs with higher wages will be created and better opportunities for workers will develop in a sustainable manner.

I applaud the people who work hard every day for hourly wages. I spent a lifetime supporting my family on hourly wages and I understand the need for fair pay. But I also understand that employers work hard and deal with many pressures as well.

The best way to help workers is to relieve the burdens that all Connecticut residents face. The reason why that study identified such a high “living wage” of $19 an hour is because of the many high expenses Connecticut families face every day. Instead of slapping a band aid on the problem, we should be working to identify the root cause and improve Connecticut overall.  Strengthening our economy, reducing burdens and lowering taxes paves the path to success, and the path to better opportunities for workers everywhere.

Sen. Witkos represents the 8th District towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. He is available on Twitter @SenatorWitkos and on www.Facebook.com/senatorwitkos.

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Capitol Connection: Tax Free Week is Not Enough 

 

Kevin Witkos

Kevin Witkos

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos 
  
This week marks “Sales Tax Free Week” in Connecticut – a much anticipated and timely opportunity for families ready for some back-to-school shopping. 
  
While I always welcome any kind of tax relief, I don’t think Sales Tax Free Week does enough for our families. I believe that every week should be sales tax free. 
  
The sales tax holiday was first enacted by the General Assembly in 2000 as part of a large tax package. The holiday only exempts clothing and shoes under $300 from the sales tax. It also excludes athletic equipment, sports uniforms and certain accessories such as handbags, backpacks, wallets and watches. It does not include school supplies, electronics or other personal items. 
  
While other states have more expansive tax free holidays, Connecticut lags behind. Massachusetts, for example, exempts all products under $2500 for one weekend, enabling people to truly purchase all back-to-school items their kids might need – from printers to paper to dorm room furniture. Florida, on the other hand, has a lower price cap for clothing, but also exempts school supplies under $15 and computers under $750. 
  
Connecticut’s week of exemptions is helpful, but can and should include more items that families need. 
  
Even further, I think Connecticut needs to reduce taxes every week of the year. 
  
It is not fair that the state gets to tack on extra fees to essential items our families need. These taxes affect people from all income levels who work hard to clothe, care for, and educate their family members – and they deserve better. 
  
It was not long ago that all clothing and footwear under $50 was tax free every day in Connecticut. But in July 2011, that exemption was eliminated by state leaders. 
  
Not only did the state start taxing all clothing and footwear, it also increased the sales tax to 6.35%, instituted a 7% luxury tax, and even started taxing consignment store purchases just like other retail locations. 
  
Moving forward, we need to continue pushing for lower taxes and eliminating the sales tax on necessities. 
  
We must eliminate taxes on clothing purchased from consignment stores, Goodwill stores, Salvation Army locations, etc. immediately. 
  
We also have to make sure the governor does not try to delay restoring our tax exemption on clothing and shoes under $50 again. Come July 1, 2015, our sales tax exemption is scheduled to return. And when it does, we have to work together to protect and strengthen it. 
  
I hope your family is able to take advantage of this year’s Sales Tax Free Week. And I hope that in future years, more relief will be in sight. Just one week of relief is not nearly enough. 
  
Sen. Witkos represents the 8th District towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. He is available on Twitter @SenatorWitkos and on www.Facebook.com/senatorwitkos

8th District Democrats Formally Choose Melissa Osborne to Challenge Kevin Witkos

Melissa Osborne speaks at the Canton Community Center Monday night. Photo by John Fitts

Melissa Osborne speaks at the Canton Community Center Monday night.
Photo by John Fitts

On Monday night, 8TH District Democrats formally chose Simsbury resident and Avon based attorney Melissa E. Osborne to challenge state Sen. Kevin Witkos.

In nominating Osborne during a caucus at the Canton Community Center, Christopher Cook, vice chair of the Torrington Democratic Town Committee, touted her work as attorney in helping families and putting together real estate deals that have created jobs and tax benefits in the state.

“She represents families when they are the most vulnerable and she gets results,” Cook said. “With Melissa Osborne representing us the 8th senate, our children and families will have a friend. Melissa understands the need for a strong economy where everyone contributes and everyone benefits.” … Continue Reading

Seger, Osborne Seek Democratic Nomination for 8th Senate District

Dan Seger of Canton, left and Melissa Osborne of Simsbury, right, hope to get the Democratic nod to challenge Republican Kevin Witkos in the 8th Senate District.

Dan Seger of Canton, left and Melissa Osborne of Simsbury, right, hope to get the Democratic nod to challenge Republican Kevin Witkos in the 8th Senate District.

Canton resident Dan Seger and Melissa Osborne of Simsbury are seeking the democratic nomination to challenge state Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-8) this fall.

Seger, who owns Connecticut Web Services, also challenged Witkos in 2010.

“I’m seeking the nomination again because our district needs a voice that will be heard in Hartford — a loud voice clearly in support of helping our district 8 small businesses survive,” Seger said. … Continue Reading

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