As the state continues to operate on fiscal fumes, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state legislators will meet Tuesday behind close doors in the Governor’s mansion to work their way toward a budget they can all agree on.
Connecticut’s budget is more than a month late and the problem is how to deal with the huge budget deficit, estimated at $8.56 billion.
For seven months, Rell and lawmakers have been debating about whether the state needs tax increases to cover the massive deficit.
Rell had opposed tax increases, but backed off last week by proposing raising taxes by $391 million in a new $36.9 billion budget plan for the two years that began July 1.
Democrats, who control the Legislature, want a $37.8 billion two-year budget that would raise taxes by $1.8 billion.
The Democrats’ plan includes a 6 percent tax on families making more than $500,000, a 6.5 percent tax on those making $600,000 or more and a 7 percent tax on families making $750,000 or more. They would also raise the corporation tax to 8.625 percent.
Rell’s plan would increase taxes by $433 million and includes a 10 percent corporate surcharge and an increase in the alcohol tax.
Both sides agreed to increase the cigarette tax by 75 cents, but there are lots of other things they need to agree on before things are done.
The debate has gotten pretty heated, especially over the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax,” tax, according to news reports.
State Sen. Looney is in a battle with the governor’s office over what a former Rell staffer reportedly said to the Hartford Courant last week about a press conference organized by Connecticut Working Families, called "Billionaires for Budget Cuts.” The news conference is a farce “luxury press conference” to show their support for policies that cater to the poor and working class.
"The Democrats have been holding well-orchestrated events for the last six months to try and raise support for the billions of dollars in new taxes they have proposed. Now, they have apparently aligned themselves with the Connecticut Communist Party for their latest act of political theater," a since-retired Rell spokesman told the paper.
The Communist Party reference is apparently what Looney was less than thrilled about, and he issued a release to say so.
“This was one of the most reckless and irresponsible attempted smears I have seen in my 29 years in the General Assembly,” Looney said in a news release issued Monday. “It seems that the corrosive spirit of Senator Joseph McCarthy is alive and well and with the governor’s spokesman.”
The spokesman quoted in the article has taken an early-retirement buyout and was not available, according to the New Haven Independent.
A current Rell spokesman told the Independent they would not comment on the release.
We understand tempers are high and each side is passionate about what it wants for the state. However, it’s the job of lawmakers and the Governor to decide on a budget and it’s time to put egos aside, let the words slide off and negotiate the way to a budget.