by Jon Pelto, from Wait, What
As the 2014 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to a close two weeks ago, the $55 rebate that Governor Malloy had promised disappeared….
So did the promised tax break for retired teachers, and the tax break on clothing costing less than $50, and the tax break on over-the-counter, non-prescription medicines and the list goes on.
At Malloy’s direction, the legislature “pushed off” a total of $220 million in promised tax breaks.
And Connecticut’s citizens are now coming to the grim realization that those tax breaks may be gone for good, since Malloy’s new state budget morphs into a $1.3 billion deficit in the year following this fall’s election.
But it turns out, not everyone lost their tax break.
In fact, it turns out that at least one person get a brand new tax break.
Enter Howard Saffan.
Howard Saffan is a Weston, Connecticut resident. He is a lawyer, real estate investor, and President of Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment (aka The Webster Bank Arena), as well as, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
When Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch tried to persuade Bridgeport voters to change the City’s charter to eliminate their democratically elected board of education and replace it with one that he would appoint, Saffan’s Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment Company donated the maximum allowable amount of $14,440 to help fund Finch’s failed effort.
Today, if you drive by the Webster Bank Arena, you’ll see a massive new electronic billboard that the Finch administration quickly pushed through the local zoning process, over the objection of other billboard companies. The new Harbor Yard billboard often displays Mayor Finch’s face, along with a welcoming message.
But Howard Saffan’s financial generosity goes beyond Mayor Bill Finch. On September 27, 2013, Saffan wrote a check for $10,000 to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s federal account.
The Connecticut Democrat’s account is one of the mechanisms that Governor Malloy’s political operation is using to “legally” circumvent Connecticut’s campaign law.
Although a candidate who participates in Connecticut’s public finance system may not accept donations in excess of $100, may not take funds from political action committees and may not accept campaign contributions from state contractors, Malloy and the Democrats in the legislature created a massive loophole that allows Malloy to re-direct these types of illegal contributions to the Democratic Party’s federal account. Once successfully laundered, these funds can then be used to augment the $6.2 million in taxpayer funds that Malloy he will be receiving to pay for his “official” 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
And as a result of the change in law, contributors can now give up to $10,000 in each calendar year.
And the Webster Bank Arena’s Howard Saffan is one of those who have join the growing list of people who have written out $10,000 checks to this Democratic account.
Now let’s return to the last night of the 2014 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly.
As the legislature approached its midnight deadline, the Connecticut House of Representatives adopted a massive, 260 section “budget implementation” bill 11:17 p.m. The State Senate adopted the legislation at 11:47.
Few, if any, legislators really knew what was in this bill, but since it “implemented” the $20 billion dollar budget that had been passed a few days earlier, Democrats dutifully hit the “green” button and the legislation easily passed.
Toward the end of the bill, in Section 225, is a section of the statutes that requires that every “place of amusement, entertainment or recreation” charge a ten percent admissions tax.
The statute also includes a short list of types of locations that are exempt from having to charge that tax.
And if any legislator had actually read all the way to Section 225, they would have discovered that, without any public debate, “the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport” was slipped into the list of Connecticut venues that DO NOT HAVE TO CHARGE the 10 percent admissions or entertainment tax.
The result of Section 225 is that Howard Saffan and his Webster Bank Arena is better positioned to beat out its competition because it doesn’t have to add the 10 percent admission tax to all of its tickets.
And the taxpayers of Connecticut?
They are out $625,000 a year in lost revenue!