“Boy, what a testimony to the 1st District that on the Tuesday after Christmas, this room is full and you’re speaking from the heart and with your head,” Larson, the 1st District Democrat, said to the concerned and expressive crowd. “You’re giving me ammunition … ”
The forum was the first of four scheduled throughout the week, less than a week after the legislation was approved by Congress.
Among the concerns voiced by those in attendance was the lack of transparency and hearings and the prompt passing of a 500-page document.
“Did you personally have the time to read the 500-page plus document?” an audience member asked, to which Larson replied, “The answer is no … we went through various sections where I have the most concern.”
His concerns included the gutting of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which will hit Connecticut particularly hard, Larson said. A portion of the new law now places a $10,000 cap for property, sales and income tax deductions.
“This is the killer for the state,” Larson said. About 41 percent of state tax filers itemize and take the SALT deduction and the average deduction in Connecticut is $19,994, Larson said.
In 1986, there were 30 committee meetings, 12 subcommittee hearings, 450 witness testimonies and 26 days of committee mark up on a tax bill, Larson said. But the newest law included zero committee or subcommittee hearings and no witness testimonies.
Hartford resident Leslie Hammond, who is a real estate agent, said she was particularly concerned for her clients and said the uncertainty of the newly signed tax law “causes fear and anxiety … and that is never good for the economy.”
“I think our democracy is at risk and I am very concerned with the way this is being handled,” Hammond said. She encouraged Larson and other Democrats to use social media sites, such as Twitter, in a way similar to President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan — to spread their message to the masses directly and quickly.
“I urge you and other Democrats to kick it up a notch because the Republicans know how to go after the jugglery and focus, and the Democrats are way too nice,” Hammond said to applause.
Other scheduled public forums, hosted by Larson, on the new tax law include:
- Wednesday, 5 p.m., Bristol Senior Center, 240 Stafford Ave., Bristol
- Thursday, 5 p.m., Goodwin College, 1 Riverside Ave., East Hartford
- Saturday, 10 a.m., Barkhamsted Public Works Department, 33 New Hartford Rd., Pleasant Valley.