Lamont’s $150m small business loan scheme is ‘insulting’


A day after Governor Ned Lamont unveiled a $150 million small business loan program, Bob Stefanowski, his GOP opponent, went on the offensive, saying the funding would do little to help. businesses struggling with the highest inflation in 40 years.

With the state posting a $5.5 billion budget surplus, $150 million in small business loans is laughable, Stefanowski said at a Tuesday morning news conference in Plainville.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at what he announced yesterday,” said Stefanowski, the Republican gubernatorial candidate. “But it’s insulting to the small business community in terms of suffering.”

The headquarters of Carrier Home Builders, Inc., a family-owned construction company in Plainville, served as the backdrop Tuesday for Stefanowski to present his $600 million plan to help small businesses. He also took the opportunity to critique the fund that Lamont announced this week to provide capital to small businesses and nonprofits, especially in low-income and historically underserved communities.

“I don’t think our first thing to do to help small businesses right now is to ask them to take on more debt,” Stefanowski said. “He should cut taxes, he should help them grow their workforce.”

Stefanowski did not offer an alternative direct assistance program of grants or business loans. He instead focused on fee and tax cuts, pursuing the main point of contention between him and Lamont over state finances.

Lamont has enacted $600 million in one-time tax cuts and rebates, devoting the vast majority of the state’s surplus to repaying state pensions, which he says is the most effective way. save taxpayers money in the long run.

Stefanowki’s proposal, which he said he would pay to use money from the state budget surplus, includes several ideas he and fellow Republicans have campaigned on for months, such as suspending the state diesel tax, the elimination of a highway use tax on heavy trucks. into effect next year and pay off the $450 million in unemployment debt the state owes the federal government.

Stefanowski is also calling for the elimination of small business filing fees and an expansion of the state research and development tax credit. Instead of a government-run loan program, Stefanowski said he would create a fund that would be run by local community banks, which would decide who gets loans.

“What I find is that Governor Lamont is putting policies in place that are just enough, just enough to run a TV commercial,” Stefanowski said Tuesday.

Lamont stressed the need to balance fiscal discipline — paying off more of the state’s pension debt, saving more money for long-term residents, and filling state budget reserves to prepare. to a probable recession – with a solid package of tax cuts and refunds. .

The governor said he prioritizes state pension debt over unemployment debt, which has a much lower interest rate. Critics of the plan say it will lead to tax hikes for businesses for years to come.

Lamont’s campaign ads highlighted the state’s gas tax suspension, property tax cuts and a new child tax rebate — initiatives a spokesperson for the campaign also highlighted on Tuesday.

“Now that Governor Lamont has put Connecticut on a strong and sustainable fiscal path, Bob Stefanowski seems determined to return our economy to the endless cycle of budget deficits and tax malfeasance,” campaign spokesman Jake Lewis said. de Lamont, sad in a written statement. .

But Stefanowski continues to paint a different economic picture — one in which many Connecticutans are struggling under Lamont’s leadership. At Tuesday’s press conference, John Carrier, who helps run the family business, said supply chain issues and price increases have not stopped.

“The front door I used to put up was $1,500. Now it’s $3,200,” he said. “The garage doors cost $2,000. Now they’re down to $4,000.

The company has increased employee pay to help retain its skilled workforce, but the increases have not kept pace with inflation, Carrier said.

“They can’t afford what they could afford two years ago, even with the pay raises,” he said of his employees. “The average person who works eight hours a day just can’t make ends meet.”

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