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Stefanowski aims to make inflation a campaign issue in Connecticut governor’s race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski blamed his opponent, incumbent Gov. Ned Lamont, for inflation Wednesday at a news conference in Meriden. Stefanowski spoke from Tuxis Ohr's Fuel in Meriden and he was joined by company vice president Katie Childs. There Stefanowski and Childs called on the state to eliminate a diesel fuel tax they say is compounding an inflation problem businesses are currently facing.
Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski blamed incumbent Gov. Ned Lamont for inflation at a news conference Wednesday in Meriden. Stefanowski spoke from Tuxis Ohr's Fuel and he was joined by company vice president Katie Childs.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski continues to blame Gov. Ned Lamont for inflation.

Stefanowski cites increased state spending, a 1% hike on a tax levied on prepared meals and a refusal to reduce the state’s base sales tax rate of 6.35%.

“Gov. Lamont runs this state, he’s in charge of the economics of this state and he’s got to be held accountable,” Stefanowski said Wednesday to reporters in Meriden.

Lamont addressed Stefanowski’s criticism Wednesday, saying he believes that his $600 million tax cut package that kicks in soon should help Connecticut families fight inflation.

In Meriden, reporters challenged Stefanowski on his notion that the governor can be responsible for inflation; he dismissed them. President Biden’s treasury secretary Janet Yellen said this week thatinflation is largely driven by the war in Ukraine and pandemic-era supply chain issues.

Stefanowski’s solution to inflation is to reduce the state’s base tax sales rate to 5.99%, reduce the 7.35% tax on prepared foods, and suspend a 26-cent gas tax and a diesel fuel tax.

The diesel fuel tax rate is 40 cents. But the state is bracing for a major increase July 1, driven by skyrocketing wholesale diesel prices.

“We’re advocating we have a holiday on the tax, but at a minimum, it should be capped at 40 cents,” Stefanowski said. He spoke at a fuel and oil delivery company; the company’s vice president told reporters that a diesel tax hike would just add to the company’s inflation woes.

Katie Childs, the daughter of Tuxis Ohr’s Fuel founder Jim Vitale, said her company has survived inflation and the pandemic at this point. But that’s before the Jan. 1 implementation of the large-truck highway tax and the potential for a diesel fuel tax increase next month.

“Everything is just more,” Childs said. “It’s coming at all angles.”

Lamont’s response to Stefanowski’s call to ditch the diesel tax is that the state legislature would have to address it — not him — as the tax is “imposed by law.”

Stefanowski not formally seeking NRA endorsement this time around

Also Wednesday, Stefanowski said he wouldn’t fill out a National Rifle Association questionnaire on gun-related issues this election year, something he did when he ran for governor four years ago.

“When you see what happened in the last four years to kids in our schools, positions evolve over time,” Stefanowski said in Meriden.

Stefanowski’s campaign said it means he won’t seek an NRA endorsement this time around.

Connecticut Democrats want Stefanowski to release his 2018 survey, but he says he doesn’t have it.

Federal lawmakers are in negotiations over new gun legislation after the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Stefanowski said he favors funding school security and mental health initiatives. He also said he supports a so-called red flag federal law and efforts to expand background checks.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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