Devlin: It’s a matter of fairness

Running for her third term representing the 134th District, incumbent Republican Laura Devlin said her goal, and the concerns of the voters in Fairfield and Trumbull, haven’t changed.

“I still have a responsibility to get out and talk to voters, and I continue to hear the biggest concern is their worry about being able to afford to stay in our state,” Devlin said. “People are genuinely concerned that they might have to leave.”

Devlin said the taxpayers are simply tapped out.

“It’s not that people don’t want to pay taxes — everybody understands that we all have to pay,” she said. “But it’s a matter of fairness. Collectively, Connecticut residents pay more than any other state in the nation.”

One answer is phasing out of taxes on Social Security and pensions. That effort has begun to show results, but not as much or as fast as Devlin would like, she said. The General Assembly also passed caps on spending and revenue in the most recent term, efforts that should help to contain tax hikes, she said.

The state’s largest revenue source remains the income tax, which currently accounts for more than half the state’s annual revenue. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski has campaigned on a promise to eliminate the income tax. Devlin, though, is taking more of a wait-and-see approach.

“I would hope we would be able to do it,” she said. “Other states [without income taxes] are booming.”

Devlin said she was excited about a candidate seeking to reduce taxes, rather than one who is searching for additional revenue sources. But she said any income tax reductions would have to be phased in carefully.

“But that is the elephant in the room — state finances,” she said. “We have got to get stability and predictability in place. If we get our economy moving, that creates jobs because people come here, stay here, and work here.”

In addition to the income tax, Devlin said she would like to see cuts to the estate tax and in the various taxes and fees on state businesses, what she called “nuisance taxes.”

Should she win another term, and especially if the state has a Republican majority in the General Assembly, Devlin said addressing the state’s infrastructure woes would be a top priority.

“I’m not a fan of tolls, but the importance of investing in our infrastructure cannot be overstated,” she said.

In previous years, Devlin said, the state has prioritized Hartford-centric projects like the CTfastrak busway between Hartford and New Britain that critics call the “bus to nowhere.” The state also has invested heavily in establishing commuter rail between New Haven and Springfield, Mass.

“That’s like remodeling the bathroom in a house with a crumbling foundation,” Devlin said.

While declaring herself an opponent of tolls in Connecticut, Devlin advocated studying ways to increase capacity and speed of Metro-North commuter rail service, and also looking into alternate means of commuting like high speed ferries to the coastal cities of Bridgeport and Stamford.