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Governor Touts Tax Cut Proposal and Marks AAPI Heritage Month in Visit to West Hartford

A Dong Supermarket General Manager Jimmy Tran (left) chats with Gov. Ned Lamont on May 9 in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A Dong Supermarket on Shield Street in West Hartford hosted a press conference with Gov. Ned Lamont as he discussed his tax cut proposals and marked Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a press conference in West Hartford on May 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Bridget Bronsdon and Ronni Newton

Gov. Ned Lamont was in West Hartford Tuesday afternoon, strolling the aisles of the A Dong Supermarket with General Manager Jimmy Tran, remarking on the diverse variety of products the longtime business offers, before taking to the podium to discuss his budget proposal, in particular touting his proposed reduction in income tax rates for middle-class workers.

Lamont said his broad-based plan to cut the tax rate from will be easy to implement and as an example will save families earning $100,000 about $600 per year. Other keys elements of his proposed budget – an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, and restoration of the Pass-Through Entity Tax Credit to its original level – will also provide relief that state residents deserve.

“I hope what it says to you is that we’ve earned this,” the governor said Tuesday.

Lamont’s proposed $50.5-billion biennial budget is about $400 million less than what Democratic lawmakers have proposed, and is also $200 million lower than the proposal House Republicans presented last week. CTNewsJunkie reported that Senate Republicans plan to unveil their own budget plan on Wednesday.

“There are lots of spoons in the soup stirring things up,” Lamont said, but he is hopeful a deal will be reached before the legislative session ends on June 7.

Mark Boughton, commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services speaks at a press conference in West Hartford on May 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“This will help the Town of West Hartford see significant tax relief,” Mark Boughton, commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, said. He estimates that 60% of the West Hartford community would be impacted, and said the framework of the budget will also aid small businesses like A Dong hire more people and bring in more products to sell.

A Dong Supermarket, the 40,000 square foot market owned by Phuong and Khiem Tran, opened its doors in 1989 and has since been a staple for the Asian American community in West Hartford and the surrounding region. Noting that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, West Hartford Town Manager Rick Ledwith said, “This business is the beating heart of West Hartford’s Asian American community.”

Town Manager Rick Ledwith speaks at a press conference in West Hartford on May 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The family-owned A Dong Supermarket is far more than just a grocery store to its steadfast customers, but it’s also a place where many businesses get ingredients they need. “We recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our community and are vital for our economic success and we applaud Gov. Lamont for putting forward a balanced budget that provides long-term relief to Connecticut residents and businesses across the board,” Ledwith said.

The tax cut will allow many residents of West Hartford “to breathe a sigh of relief,” he added.

Jimmy Tran said A Dong serves families as well as restaurants throughout the region, not just as a place to buy the ingredients to make his mom’s recipes. “For Asian Americans it’s a gateway to Connecticut, it’s a gateway to our culture,” he said.

Jimmy Tran, general manager of A Dong Supermarket in West Hartford, said the governor’s proposed tax cut will give people enough breathing room to do other things with their money. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A Dong loves doing business in Connecticut, and said the community that is their supermarket is glad to have Lamont as a partner, and his budget plan will help the community climb the ladder of success.

“His proposal to cut taxes for middle class families and offer relief to many low-income families will save my family a couple of hundred dollars each year,” Tran said. “Beyond that it also puts money back into the pockets of our customers so they can spend a little more here.

“All jokes aside,” he added, for many residents “keeping more of what they earn is the breathing room they need … to start stocking money away to buy a house … enough breathing room to bet on themselves and start a business on the side … to send their kids to college … to pay for their bills.”

Boughton called Lamont’s budget proposal “one of the most sweeping and transformational” he’s seen, and said the budget process has been thoughtful and deliberate, resulting in a proposal “that cut and reduced taxes in every spot tht we can but made sure that we wouldn’t have to go back in the out years and ask for those cuts to be rescinded.” This budget is not an argument about what to add in terms of taxes, but “what to cut,” he said.

Lamont also said his budget also makes a commitment to education and daycare, and is a proposal that is “real for you today and sustainable for the future.”

Following Tuesday’s press conference, Gov. Ned Lamont (left) speaks with A Dong owners Phuong Tran (left) and Khiem Tran. Courtesy photo

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Bridget Bronsdon

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