New Study Finds Tax Policy Drives Connecticut’s Ongoing Fiscal & Economic Crisis

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

BOSTON – Multiple rounds of tax increases aimed at high earners and corporations triggered an exodus from Connecticut of large employers and wealthy individuals, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“It’s no coincidence that the state’s ongoing economic struggles have corresponded with a string of experimental tax hikes,” said Greg Sullivan, who co-authored “Connecticut’s Dangerous Game: How the Nation’s Wealthiest State Scared Off Businesses and Worsened Its Fiscal Crisis,” with Andrew Mikula.

Over the last quarter-century, Connecticut has endured a series of budget crises. To cover ballooning costs, the state enacted sharp tax increases, including four income tax hikes in the last 20 years that caused the top rate to jump by 77 percent.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said that the tax increases “totally disadvantage the state,” noting that it already has “some of the highest income tax rates in the country and we pay a price for that.”

In recent years, Connecticut has increasingly turned to high earners and large companies to close budget gaps, doubling a surcharge on large firms, establishing and then increasing a tax on luxury goods, and raising the income tax for the state’s highest earners.

The results have been disastrous. From 2008 to 2020, the state placed 49th among the states in private sector wage growth. In just the last couple of years, General Electric and Alexion Pharmaceuticals both moved their headquarters to Massachusetts. The flight of jobs has in turn affected existing homeowners, and before COVID-19, property values in wealthy Fairfield County were still 18 percent below their 2006 peak.

Further, these tax increases have failed to stabilize Connecticut’s finances, and large deficits continue to be projected for the state.

According to 2016 Connecticut Department of Revenue Services data, the state’s wealthiest 3 percent of families account for 41 percent of all income tax revenue. Between 2012 and 2018, Connecticut lost high earners at a rate that trailed only Washington, D.C., and those who fled earned more on average than taxpayers who migrated into the state.

Despite rate increases, the amount of taxes paid by Connecticut’s 100 top taxpayers plummeted 45 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone.

Massachusetts took a very different approach in the wake of the 1990-91 recession. A state income tax that was once 6.25 percent now stands at 5.0 percent. In recent years, the Commonwealth has gained millionaires at a higher rate than the national average, and nearly twice the rate of Connecticut.

Between January 2008 and January 2020, employment in Massachusetts grew by 12.5 percent. In contrast, Connecticut still hasn’t recovered all the jobs it lost during the Great Recession, and those it has created are, on average, lower paying.

Massachusetts has also benefited from Connecticut’s struggles to retain major corporations and wealthy individuals, and Connecticut is one of the few states from which taxable income migration to Massachusetts has been positive in recent years. That said, wealth migration remains a concern in Massachusetts, especially given the large scale of tax avoidance.

“Leaving has never been easier,” said Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios. “In some cases, high earners can stay put and simply move money into trusts located in other states.”

About the Authors

Andrew Mikula is a Research Assistant at Pioneer Institute. Mr. Mikula was pre­viously a Lovett & Ruth Peters Economic Opportunity Fellow at Pioneer Institute and studied economics at Bates College.

Gregory Sullivan is Pioneer’s Research Director. Prior to joining Pioneer, Sullivan served two five-year terms as Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was a 17-year member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Greg is a Certified Fraud Investigator, and holds degrees from Harvard College, The Kennedy School of Public Administration, and the Sloan School at MIT.

About Pioneer

Pioneer’s mission is to develop and communicate dynamic ideas that advance prosperity and a vibrant civic life in Massachusetts and beyond.

Pioneer’s vision of success is a state and nation where our people can prosper and our society thrive because we enjoy world-class options in education, healthcare, transportation, and economic opportunity, and where our government is limited, accountable and transparent.

Pioneer values an America where our citizenry is well-educated and willing to test our beliefs based on facts and the free exchange of ideas, and committed to liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.

Get Updates on Our Economic Opportunity Research

Related Posts

In Hampden County, COVID-19 exacerbates a stark employment divide between urban and rural areas

/
Hampden County, Massachusetts, home of Western New England’s…

Survey Suggests Demand for Telecommuting After COVID-19 Crisis

Citing an avoidance of the commute and more flexible scheduling, nearly 63 percent of respondents to Pioneer Institute’s survey, “Will You Commute To Work When The COVID-19 Crisis Is Over?” expressed a preference to work from home one day a week, and a plurality preferred two to three days a week, even after a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Respondents cite social isolation as the biggest drawback of remote work. The survey was conducted from April 22nd to May 15th, and received responses from over 700 individuals.

32.9 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 26.2 percent of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims over the past nine weeks.

/
Data released today by the U.S. Department of the shows that 33.0 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 26.2 percent of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims since the COVID-19 unemployment surge began nine weeks ago.

Hubwonk Ep. 6: COVID-19 and Commerce: Main Street’s Concerns with Governor Baker’s Course

/
In this episode of Hubwonk, Host Joe Selvaggi & Pioneer Research Analyst Rebecca Paxton to get reactions to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s phased reopening, from the leaders of two statewide business organizations, NFIB and Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Study Targets Inadequate Nursing Home Staffing Standards

Standards enforced at the federal and state levels are insufficient to address chronic staffing issues reported by staff and residents’ families at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, making that facility particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new Pioneer Institute research.

28.9 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 24.1 percent of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims over the past eight weeks.

/
Data released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Workforce Development show that 28.9 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 24.1 percent  of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims over the past eight weeks.

Time to follow the science, not fear

Over the past two months, we have all learned a great deal about COVID-19 and the efficacy of - and the new challenges created by - our policy responses. Pioneer Institute believes it is time to shift to a more thoughtful, science-based footing in our approach to COVID-19 policymaking. The following are principles for state and local public officials to consider as we move forward.

Where in Massachusetts is being hit hardest by unemployment due to COVID-19?

Pioneer’s new tool, called “COVID Unemployment Tracker,” provides an interactive look at how economic shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting jobs and lives across the state of Massachusetts.

The past seven weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 25.8 percent of the civilian workforce.

/
The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 55,448 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended May 2. This brings the total of regular UI claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 781,110. 

COVID-19 will likely lead to a recession. Can Massachusetts municipal budgets handle one?

/
Using municipalities' experiences during the Great Recession, a new policy brief examines the likely impact of COVID-19 on local property taxes, as well as political implications for state aid. We list the municipal revenues by category among the least tax-reliant communities in Massachusetts, show the trajectory of tax revenue growth rate in Massachusetts state and local governments, and rank stabilization fund assets per capita among Massachusetts Gateway Cities.

The past six weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 24.0 percent of civilian workforce

/
The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims this morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 70,714 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended April 25. This brings the total of unemployment claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 725,018. 

Re-opening for business: What should employers and commercial real estate managers do to prepare?

/
Weeks away from re-opening, now is a time when employers and real estate managers must act. To assist our community in doing a great job of preparing, Pioneer Institute, in partnership with the law firm of Verrill, is sharing two checklists that will help you keep your employees safe, anticipate challenges, and develop feasible and useful methods to successfully deal with those challenges when they do.

Report Finds “Reopening Day” in the Commonwealth Will Likely Include Phasing in Businesses and Contact Tracing

New study compares the reopening of three European countries – Austria, Denmark, and Germany – to highlight approaches that could inform the Commonwealth’s reopening strategy.

New jobless claims data shows that Massachusetts unemployment has grown from 2.8% to at least 20.4% in five weeks

/
Based on today’s jobless claims report, Pioneer Institute projects that the current unemployment rate in Massachusetts is at least 20.4 percent, with a minimum of 762,299 currently unemployed individuals.

Coronavirus & Contracts – Protecting Massachusetts Attorneys & Clients from Risk

/
In this episode of "Hubwonk," host Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer’s Chief Financial Officer & Director of Government Transparency, Mary Connaughton, speak with attorney and entrepreneur Kosta Ligris about how Massachusetts’ requirement for live attestation for many vital contracts is putting attorneys and clients at risk of exposure to coronavirus.