O’Dea says cut spending to cut taxes

Like most other Republicans in the Connecticut House of Representatives, Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125), who represents Wilton and New Canaan, says his top priority is reining in taxes and cutting spending on the state level.

Such cuts, he says, would help grow jobs and attract more young professionals to the state.

“When I moved here in 1990, I chose Connecticut because there was no income tax. Unfortunately, we’re not there anymore. … If you’re going to look to move to Connecticut on an economic basis, you would not come here,” Mr. O’Dea told The Bulletin on Monday.

Two important items in holding on to “fleeing” young talent are an across-the-board 10% cut to all components of the state government and a lowering of income taxes on residents, the representative said.

“Everybody agrees we’re overtaxed,” Mr. O’Dea said. “We have to cut spending … we can’t borrow to increase spending like [the governor’s office] has done over the past two years.”

In terms of specific taxes, Mr. O’Dea has a gas tax plan he says will increase revenue in a contradictory way.

“My proposal last year, and this year, is to cut the gas tax in August so that we have the cheapest gas in New England. The Connecticut Retail Association has said they would advertise that fact. The result is a lot of out-of-staters would stop in Connecticut to buy gas instead of driving right through. … We’d actually have an increase in our gas tax revenue,” he said.

Though Mr. O’Dea believes highway tolls are a bad idea, he said, “Unfortunately, I think they are coming. I will vote against tolls, but if we have no choice I would advocate for certain options.”

Those options deal with both the practicality of tolls, and any possible revenue stream they would produce.

“I’m driving back from a family trip to Florida right now,” Mr. O’Dea said, “and I’ve had the opportunity to drive through parts of the East Coast where they have express lanes; tolls where you could pay extra with E-ZPass only to avoid the traffic. … I think that’s a good idea. If you’re going to have tolls, that’s the way to do it.”

On the revenue side of tolls, the representative said money made from tolls should be used to decrease the gas tax and decrease the cost of a Metro-North rush-hour ticket.

“We should make [Metro-North] less expensive during rush hour. The idea is you want more people to take public transportation during that time to get cars off the roads. We need to completely rethink why trains are more expensive during rush hour, when it should be the complete opposite,” he said.

“If [tickets] can’t be made free, then a ride should be as cheap as it could be. We should use the rest for the upkeep of roads.”