Deep cuts or tax hikes? That’s the question facing lawmakers, as they get ready for the first day of special session.
Starting Friday, legislators will live, breathe and dream the budget. This special session is their last chance to reach a deal both sides can agree on. They couldn’t get it done earlier this month and with just 2 weeks until the end of the fiscal year, the republicans and democrats couldn’t be farther apart.
“No one wants to make tough choices. It requires leadership and I’m the only one making these difficult choices it seems,” said Governor M. Jodi Rell.
Twice, the Governor has proposed a budget to no avail. She wants to make cuts and has suggested closing courthouses, DMV branches and a state technical school among other things. The Democrats though want 3.3 billion dollars in new taxes instead. It’s something the Governor adamantly opposes.
“If you’re going to propose taxes, tell us what they are. Do you want a 6 ¾% sales tax? Is it income tax that will affect everyone?” said Rell.
Across Connecticut, different interest groups have fought for funding. A hot topic right now concerns jobs for kids and job training for laid off adults. Because lawmakers couldn’t agree on a budget, $50 million in federal funds has been stalled.
Those affected by the unexpected snag held a rally at the Capitol firing their grievances at the top dog.
“The Governor needs to cut the checks because we need to work,” said Tiandra Jewell.
Lawmakers announced Thursday they will release at least $30 million in federal stimulus money for those programs as soon as the General Assembly convenes Friday.