Budget Negotiations To Begin With Taxes On The Table

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Tomorrow Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and the legislature’s Democratic majority will start negotiating a budget that spends about $46 billion over the next two years. But there’s still no agreement over whether to raise taxes and Republicans are still sidelined.

“I’ve been here for 12 years and this is the first year we’re not forced to craft a budget that chooses between a lesser of a host of evils, which is most often than not, draconian spending reductions that impact our most vulnerable residents,” House Majority Leader Jason Rojas said.

Democrats in the legislature believe they’ve put forward a good starting point for negotiations. But it still includes a capital gains surcharge and other taxes that Republicans and even the governor say are unnecessary. 

“We will have revenue in our budget and we hope he will work with us,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.

Ritter said they want to use those tax increases to lower taxes for the low-income. 

“At some point we ask the governor what works best for you in your mind if we’re going to do some progressive taxation and try and bring in revenue,” Ritter said.

Max Reiss, the governor’s spokesman, said “Governor Lamont has been clear for months: Connecticut doesn’t need more taxes, we need more taxpayers. We look forward to negotiating a budget, starting this week, that reflects the priorities of supporting our state’s most critical needs, maintaining fiscal responsibility, and addressing equity.”

Republicans who will not be part of the negotiations say there’s no need to raise taxes. 

“I don’t think there’s any reason at this point to talk about tax increases although there appears to be quite a bit on the board,” Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, said. 

The state is receiving $2.8 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and has $3 billion in its rainy day fund. 

“I’m surprised to see that we’re looking at a more progressive income tax. That frankly last time Democrats implemented Connecticut saw deficit after deficit after deficit,” Candelora said.

The wealthy left the state. Following the last income tax increase the top 100 taxpayers returned $200 million less in revenues, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis. 

“We’re looking at a budget that has an actual 6% increase over two years,” Candelora said. 

Candelora said they’re happy to come to the table, but they are drawing the line at any tax increases. 

“It would probably behoove the governor to bring us in the room,” he said.

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