Successful Retirees ‘No Longer Welcomed’: ‘We Didn’t Leave Connecticut … Connecticut Left Us’

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A couple who lived their lives and raised their family in Connecticut tell how the political class has destroyed the New England state they once called home but is now “no more.”

Gary and Michelle Vallo, formerly of Glastonbury, write in an op-ed at the Hartford Courant they have packed up their “lifetime of belongings” and left the state they loved.

“It was sad to leave a state we had called home our entire lives,” they say. “But the Connecticut we once knew — the vibrant economy and the rational oasis between New York and Massachusetts — is no more.”

“[W]e didn’t leave Connecticut so much as Connecticut left us,” the couple assert.

Gary Vallo, formerly CEO of an insurance company, and his wife Michelle, a homemaker and former employee in the insurance industry, are now retired. They explain they have both worked to build successful careers and raised children who are well-educated and successful as well.

And, they add, they have paid their taxes that supported their community.

“We were among the top 10 percent of earners who paid the majority of Connecticut’s income taxes,” they write. “We were the good citizens who voted in every state and local election.”

The Vallos, however, reveal what many businesses and residents of Connecticut have come to realize:

Connecticut’s political class has made it clear that people like us are no longer welcomed. They have created an environment that is hostile toward business, resulting in anemic long-term economic growth. Simultaneously, they have grown state government spending at a faster pace, driven by outrageously generous and unsustainable state employee union contracts.

The couple say Connecticut political leaders have targeted families like their own to attempt to make ends meet in the state.

Democrats in the state legislature continually point to hard-working, successful people in Connecticut as those who must pay more to fund state employee union contracts and social programs.

“We resent this false claim and the implied characterization of us as freeloaders who are the problem,” the Vallos write. “Since we were unsuccessful in voicing our displeasure at the ballot box, we decided to vote with our feet.”

New taxes passed by Connecticut Democrats this year figure into the decision to leave that many residents such as the Vallos have made.

Democrat lawmakers, for example, passed a paid family medical leave bill — to be “paid” for by people who work in the private sector. They will be forced to contribute 0.5 percent of their paycheck to a state-run “trust fund” to pay for workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave time per year. The leave may be taken not just to care for a new baby but also to care for grandparents and friends who are of no relation to workers.

Connecticut residents are also about to be hit by an expansive new tax hike on prepared foods, one that is slated to hand over to the state $158 million through the next two years.

A report at CT Mirror observed the state’s residents are learning the new tax will be levied on a much broader range of products than was initially told. Prepared foods that will be subject to a 7.35 percent sales tax — an increase of one percent on the regular 6.35 percent state sales tax — include:

  • Popsicles and ice cream cones sold individually
  • Frozen deserts of less than one pint
  • Lettuce or greens-based salads in containers of eight ounces or less
  • Doughnuts, muffins, rolls bagels and pastries if five or fewer are sold at one time
  • Loose cookies, if less than five are sold at one time
  • Pizza, cake and pie, if sold by the slice
  • Hot dogs served heated or on a bun
  • Popcorn, kettle corn and nuts served heated
  • Soup sold in containers holding eight ounces or less
  • Cooked chicken sold by the piece, and whole cooked chickens
  • “Meal replacement” bars

Additionally, Democrat lawmakers have passed a $15 minimum wage hike.

These laws have come amid continued threats by Democrat Gov. Ned Lamont and Democrat leaders to place tolls on Connecticut roads.

A recent survey on businesses in the state revealed the effects of the new taxes: Only 11 percent of Connecticut businesses expect the state’s economy to grow next year.

The Vallos, who have moved to New Hampshire, say they have urged their children to leave Connecticut as well. They have observed to them the number of businesses and residents leaving the state and the declining real estate values as more residents have come to the same realization and placed their homes on the market:

The twin demographic trends — retirees and young people leaving Connecticut — ought to ring alarms at the state capitol. Unfortunately, the political agenda of the new governor and legislature is simply more of the same. After decades of demonstrably failed policies, we had hoped for a different outcome that held the prospect for a new direction. But like many, we viewed the most recent state election as a tipping point.

The Vallos particularly emphasize that Connecticut will not experience change without “an end to collective bargaining by public employee unions.”

“The fact that public employee unions elect politicians with whom they later negotiate contracts represents an unambiguous conflict of interest that is at the root of Connecticut’s problem,” they write. “Think about it: Would you get bigger raises if you were responsible for your boss’s continued employment?”

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