State Senator Alex Kasser (D-Greenwich) voted for four bills and against one in the State Capitol on Monday.
Sen. Kasser voted for a bill that gives tax relief and certainty to 158,000 Connecticut residents who usually work out of state but have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kasser said it is estimated that this legislation will save residents who telecommute to New York about $440 million in income taxes and save telecommuters to Massachusetts jobs another $60 million.
“The pandemic has changed the way people work. Many residents of Fairfield County who normally commute to New York have been working from home. This could have triggered income taxes in both states, so we passed a bill to avoid that. Connecticut residents who worked from home for an out-of-state employer during the pandemic will now be spared Connecticut taxation,” noted Sen. Kasser in a release.
She added that this situation may change after 2020 because of a pending lawsuit filed by New Hampshire against Massachusetts.
“I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court takes that case and decides that a person is only responsible for paying income taxes to the state where they live and work, even if their employer is located elsewhere. That would give Connecticut a significant advantage over New York because our tax rates are lower,” Kasser continued. “The result of that case will be telling. In the meantime, 158,000 Connecticut residents to whom this bill applies have the assurance of no double taxation for 2020.”
Another bill that was voted on was a tax incentive for data centers, to attract this industry to Connecticut.
“While I support the goal of this bill – to bring new business to Connecticut – I could not approve the structure of the bill, which contained no economic metrics or environmental safeguards,” explained Sen. Kasser. She spoke on the Senate floor to explain her concern about setting a precedent of giving tax breaks without the assurance of job creation or environmental safety. The bill did eventually pass, but Sen. Kasser was joined by a handful of Democrats and Republicans who also voted “no.”
Sen. Kasser said that after data centers are built, they only require a skeletal staff to be maintained. “They are run by software, not people,” she said. “Data centers are also notorious polluters and consume enormous amounts of energy. This bill contradicts our commitment to clean energy and creates an even greater burden on our already fragile energy grid.”
But since the bill did pass, Sen. Kasser expressed her hope that it will be improved later – with environmental and economic metrics – and that it will deliver what was promised.
“I don’t believe in giving industries a free pass to pollute, or 30-year tax-breaks, without a commitment to job creation, but now that this bill is becoming law, I hope that it succeeds,” she concluded.
A third bill that Sen. Kasser was proud to support was the C.R.O.W.N. Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
“We heard deeply moving and personal stories from colleagues about the pain and shame they and their loved ones have been subjected to,” Sen. Kasser said. “It is unconscionable to discriminate against anyone based on their natural hair or any other characteristic.”
This legislation affirms that hair texture and hairstyles are traits associated with race and are, therefore, protected by anti-discrimination laws. The facts are that Black women are three times more likely to be called “unprofessional” because of their hair, and more than 50% of Black women are likely to be sent home from work because of complaints about their hair. “This legislation affirms the right of every person to be who they are, and to be respected. It affirms that while we are all different, we are all equal. I am proud to stand with Black women,” explained Sen. Kasser.
Kasser said other two bills that received final passage in the Senate gave tax relief for welfare recipients and towns and cities that have state-owned properties, universities or other entities that are not subject to property tax.
“I look forward to being back in Hartford soon to vote on more legislation,” Sen. Kasser added. “We have a lot more to accomplish before this legislative session ends in June.”