(Updated) Gov.-elect Dan Malloy tapped longtime Democratic insider, former Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan of West Hartford to head the Department of Revenue Services.
While Sullivan joked at the press conference that he did not intend to be the taxman, Malloy said he is hoping Sullivan will be proactive about collecting money the state is owed.
“As commissioner, Kevin will draw upon his experiences and relationships borne out of his time in the legislature to help Connecticut find new and innovative ways in which to collect the money it is due,” Malloy said.
Malloy said that, given Sullivan’s extensive experience in state government, his position may extend beyond the responsibilities normally associated with the job.
“I have relied on his guidance and counsel over the last number of years and I’m particularly happy he has agreed to join my administration in this position,” Malloy said of Sullivan. “I have made it clear to Kevin that I will call upon his counsel in the future and he can expect to receive assignments from me on an ongoing basis, above and beyond, from time to time, the traditional role as commissioner of revenue services,” he said.
Sullivan said that, like Malloy, he envisions a broader role for the department including a role as part of Malloy’s economic development and job-creation agenda.
Malloy said his administration may be looking to the department to enforce some taxes previously not enforced, including sales tax for purchases made over the Internet, something many people fail to report on annual tax returns. Connecticut, like many states, has not found a viable way to collect what is commonly referred to as the “Amazon Tax” but Malloy said the state can no longer afford not to enforce tax laws more strictly.
In March the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee recommended a bill that would have enforced the tax on internet vendors grossing over $2,000 annually in the state but the bill was never adopted.
Complicating the issue are U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which limit individual states’ authority to require internet vendors to collect the taxes, according to a report by the Office of Legislative Research.
But on Wednesday Malloy signaled it was time to find a way to enforce them.
“We need to collect all of the money that is owed to the people of the state of Connecticut and do it in a timely fashion,” he said. “I think what we’re looking for is a department that is very proactive but also cooperative and works with people. Misunderstandings exist out there and if we are not doing everything in our power to correct those misunderstandings then shame on us.”
Sullivan, who was president of the Senate when former Gov. John G. Rowland resigned, served as a Democrat Lt. Gov. under Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. He held that position until 2007 when he left public office.
At the press conference Sullivan thanked his wife Carolyn Thornberry for encouraging him to accept Malloy’s offer and return to government.
Before being elected to the Senate in 1986, Sullivan served as the Mayor of West Hartford and its town council. He is currently the president of the Children’s Museum in West Hartford.