Man with glasses speaking at podium, woman standing the left listening
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski held a press conference at a North Branford strip mall Thursday morning, July 14, 2022. Credit: Christopher Hoffman / CTNewsJunkie

NORTH BRANFORD, CT – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski held a press conference at a North Branford strip mall Thursday morning to accuse Gov. Ned Lamont of failing to act against surging inflation and listing actions he says Lamont should take immediately to mitigate the growing impact on residents.

“We’ve got to stop campaigning and believing that everything is fine and start doing something for people,” said Stefanowski, who was accompanied by his running mate, state Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield.

Stefanowski and Devlin called on the governor to call a special session of the legislature to pass measures easing the impact of rising prices on residents.

Lamont’s campaign released a response, accusing Stefanowski of “throwing out inaccurate and misleading attacks to hide his extremist policies.”

“In his first term, Governor Lamont has successfully turned our economy around, including passing the largest set of tax cuts in state history that not a single Republican voted for, pausing the state gas tax, and making unprecedented investments in workforce training,” campaign spokesman Jake Lewis said in an email.

Stefanowski also promised to curb what he said is surging crime in the state and revisit changes to qualified immunity, which shields police officers from certain types of litigation.

In addition, the former corporate executive promised to release information about his personal taxes and wealth in late August.

Stefanowski’s inflation mitigation proposals included cutting the sales tax from 6.35% to 5.99%, repealing the 1% sales tax surcharge on restaurant and prepared food and suspending the recent hike in the diesel tax. The state should use its $3.5 billion surplus along with federal covid funding to pay for the tax relief, he said.

Man in jacket and tie talks with two children
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski interacts with some future voters at his Thursday press conference in North Branford on July 22, 2022. Credit: Christopher Hoffman / CTNewsJunkie

People need relief now, Stefanowski said, citing recent conversations he said he’s had with voters in which they complained that inflation is making them choose between buying food and buying prescriptions.

“He’s got a $3.5 billion budget surplus-rainy day fund at the same time people can’t afford to buy food,” Stenowski said. “It’s a rainy day.”

Stefanowski agreed with Lamont’s decision to use part of the surplus to pay down some of the state’s unfunded pension allegations, but said that inflation is a more pressing need.

Stefanowski harshly criticized Lamont’s comment this week referring to the latest numbers putting inflation at 9.1% annually as a “backwards looking number” that did not reflect a recent slowing in the growth of the inflation rate.

“You want to go back to someone who just filled up their tank and it cost $90 and tell them don’t worry, it’s backwards looking,” Stefanowski said.

Stefanowski used the event to lay out his broader vision for the state. In addition to tax cuts, the Madison resident said he wants to make government smaller and more efficient, improve the business climate and increase parental rights in schooling. He cited a CNBC survey of top states for business, released this week, showing that Connecticut had fallen 15 spots to 39th as further proof of the need for action.

“One thing we hear over and over again, nobody feels like they are better off now than they were four years ago when Gov. Lamont came into office,” Devlin said.

Stefanowski also said he wants to reduce dependency, suggesting at one point that Democrats purposely seek to make people dependent on government programs.

“That’s what you hear in Bridgeport; We’re afraid because we need these payments,” Stefanowski said. “Government – and I think it’s intentional – has made people dependent on them to get them elected. We’re going to make people independent by driving jobs, driving growth and giving people personal freedom, and bringing back vibrant cities.”

A number of times during his comments, Stefanowski returned to the theme of beefing up law enforcement in response to what he said is increasing crime and disorder.

“We are going to make the streets safer,” he said. “We are going to reinvest in law enforcement.”

Asked when he would disclose his personal finances, Stefanowski first criticized Lamont’s disclosures as inadequate and then said he would release his own information at the end of August. He said he will include the first few pages of his tax return and a full accounting of his family income, he said.

“I’m going to reveal the most comprehensive (information) from a governor in a long time,” he said.

Asked if he would also reveal a list of clients from his consulting activities, Stefanowski said that some of that information is restricted by non-disclosure agreements.

“I’ll disclose as much as I legally can,” he said.