Democrats Won't Rule Out Tax Hike to Address Budget Woes

The state's Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management released a pair of reports over the weekend showing that the state could face as much as a $100 million budget deficit.

According to the OFA, the figure is $89 million, but the OPM, which is run by the governor’s budget manager, projects the shortfall at $99 million.

Democrats who control the legislature say a cautious approach to assessing the budget projections is best, reminding constituents that the current estimates are a small piece of a much bigger pie.

“That is a very small percentage of the overall budget,” said Democratic State Sen. Martin Looney, of New Haven. “These kinds of things have happened before.”

Gov. Dan Malloy said during the campaign that the state didn’t have a potential deficit on the horizon and added that even if one existed, he wouldn’t raise taxes to increase revenues.

State Sen. Looney, who is expected to be elected as the president pro tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, refused to rule out such a blanket promise.

"We're at the very beginning of the process and I think it's far too soon to say what we will do,” Looney said. "I think that we have not even begun the process at this point."

Republican State Sen. Len Fasano, of New Haven, said he thinks the Malloy administration has known about a possible shortfall for much longer than a few days.

"I think that they knew about it,” said Fasano. “I think they didn't want to speak about it before the election, although the governor was asked a number of times and he refused to say there was a deficit."

Last week, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management denied any allegation that the administration had advance knowledge of a shortfall. He said his agency’s report was always scheduled to come out after the Nov. 4 election.

Fasano said now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to find solutions, considering the tight results from the election that saw the GOP make gains in both the House and Senate.

"We need to make some structural changes and we need to make them now so we avoid the deficit from getting larger in the future," Fasano said. "So we should be sitting down and not letting him do it by his executive authority, which he has a right to do. We should be sitting down as a unit and figuring out what's best to do for the state of Connecticut."

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