Democrat Candidate Opposes ‘Mansion Tax’ While GOP Challenger Takes Aim At Regionalizing Schools
It may not sit well with Democratic colleagues at the statehouse, but 112th District Democratic candidate Nick Kapoor is pledging to stand against a key revenue-generating proposal referred to as the “mansion tax” if he wins the seat in a special election set for Tuesday, April 13. At the same time, the Republican candidate for the seat is promising to vote against a school regionalization incentive bill introduced by the same state senator who proposed the mansion tax.
The special election is being conducted following the recent resignation of former State Rep JP Sredzinski, who decided to devote more of his time to family and career responsibilities. Monroe Democrat Nick Kapoor is being challenged by Monroe Republican Tony Scott and Newtown Independent William Furrier.
In a campaign position paper issued recently to The Newtown Bee, Kapoor said he would oppose “any unfair new tax — maintaining my proven record of thinking for myself and of not simply voting in mindless lock-step with political party policies.”
He also took aim at his Republican opponent for carrying out an “us versus them” campaign strategy in favor of promoting the issues most concerning to constituents in the 112th District — along with many other residents across Connecticut.
In his release, Kapoor quotes Benjamin Franklin’s familiar statement about the inevitability of death and taxes — “A pairing that pretty dramatically demonstrates how much we all dread paying taxes,” the candidate writes.
“The amount that each person pays to their town, the state, and the federal government has always been a flashpoint for heated arguments,” Kapoor states.
“Here in Connecticut, we pay several different taxes, sometimes daily — gas tax, sales tax — and sometimes less often —personal property tax, business taxes, and income taxes. But, however unwelcome, these taxes may be ‘the price we pay for civilized society,’ as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes so wisely noted.”
While Kapoor agrees that “Holmes was undeniably right,” he says “the taxes levied on us must always be as fair and as low as possible without sacrificing critical services.”
With that guidepost in place, Kapoor says a so-called mansion tax proposed by Democrats “is a really bad idea.”
‘Mansion Tax’ Unpacked
As news of the proposal surfaced earlier in this year’s legislative session, Keith Phaneuf at ctmirror.com reported that the Senate’s highest-ranking Democrat proposed new taxes on high-value homes.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven), said he wants to create a new statewide tax on residential and commercial property. The rate would be one mill — or $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value — with one big qualifier.
The first $300,000 of assessed value would be exempt. And because Connecticut assesses property at 70% of its market value, the proposed levy would target houses, commercial buildings, and lots marketable at about $430,000 or more.
The municipal property tax burden in Connecticut ranked as one of the nation’s highest before the pandemic, and municipalities say the coronavirus-induced pandemic has cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The property tax is considered highly regressive, meaning communities largely charge the same rate to households regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
State officials have been losing ground for more than a decade in their struggle to preserve aid to municipalities — and thereby to limit property tax increases. And according to CTMirror, Looney believes that revenues from this proposed property tax and from a second increase he is proposing would support a new plan to add $130 million to state grants that reimburse communities for lost revenue.
But Kapoor, a local homeowner, observed that “in many parts of the state, a residence assessed at $300,000 is nowhere near what anyone would think of as a ‘mansion.’ The homeowners of Connecticut cannot be burdened with this obviously unfair new tax.”
“As a member of the Town Council and the Board of Education, I consistently advocated that the people of Monroe should have the final say in our town’s budget through the referendum process,” Kapoor says. If elected, the Monroe resident says he will continue to defend citizens against any unfair new tax — including the mansion tax proposal.
Turning his attention to the local campaign, Kapoor added, “It’s unfortunate that my opponent and the local Republican Party are running a typically negative, them-versus-us campaign. That may be who they are, but it is not who I am. Nor is it the kind of representative I will be once I get to Hartford.
“My campaign is about the issues and my vision for the future of our district and our state,” Kapoor continued. “We need people in Hartford who are willing to seriously work across the aisle and — when needed — to stand up to their party to ensure that the right things get done for Newtown and Monroe. I’ve done it for the past ten years in Monroe and [Newtown voters] can count on me to continue to do that in the legislature as your state representative.”
Opposing School Districting
While neither Kapoor’s GOP opponent nor his Independent challenger had issued any formal position papers by this edition’s press time, they have been solicited by The Newtown Bee.
However, in a recent mailing, Scott’s campaign addresses a separate proposal, also tendered by Senator Looney, that would financially penalize towns with populations of fewer than 25,000 residents for failing to pursue school regionalization.
Scott’s mailer states, “Hartford has been cutting local aid for education and is now pushing a concept called regionalization — merging school districts and reducing local control.
“As a local leader with two daughters at Jockey Hollow Middle School in Monroe, Tony Scott understands the importance of local control and will fight to restore funding in Hartford,” the mailer continues.
The reference is to Senate Bill 253, which, if passed, would reduce the percentage a town may receive for a school building project grant by 20 points if such town has fewer than 25,000 residents, and/or is not a member of a regional school district, and contains a high school that is under the jurisdiction of the local board of education for the town.
That bill has been referred to the legislature’s Education Committee for consideration. If enacted, 60 towns, including Monroe, which has just over 20,000 residents, would be affected; Newtown, with more than 27,500 residents, would not. Two similar 2019 proposals regarding school district regionalization ignited a storm of protest in some communities, as well as debate at the State Capitol.
Looney’s unsuccessful 2019 Senate Bill No. 454 proposed forcing municipalities with populations of fewer than 40,000 to consolidate with another district. The bill was also for the creation of a commission that would be responsible for developing a plan to carry out the regional consolidation of those districts.
Newtown has more than 3,000 voters in the 112th District. Their votes can be cast by no-excuse absentee ballot or in person at Reed Intermediate School on April 13, between 6 am and 8 pm.
Completed ballots can then be returned to the Town Clerk in person, by US mail, or by depositing completed ballot envelopes into a secure drop box outside the western entrance of the Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills.
Additionally, a special absentee voting session is scheduled for Saturday, April 10, between 9 am and noon, at the Town Clerk’s Office in the Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.
Any questions about absentee voting can be made to the Town Clerk’s office at 203-270-4210. Any questions about voting day activities and in-person voting can be directed to the Newtown Registrars of Voters at 203-270-4250.
Voters can learn more about Scott by visiting tonyscottforstaterep.com.