Democratic legislative leaders and the governor try to outdo each other on home heating help. Will it detract from campaign finance reform?
When Gov. M. Jodi Rell called for a special session on campaign finance reform last week, Senate President Donald Williams (D-Brooklyn) responded with specifics…about why home heating costs should be tackled, too.So Rell’s office issued one of its multi-daily press releases Wednesday, calling for an income tax credit on purchases of heating oil and other necessities.“We are all feeling the effects of these staggering increases in the price of energy, no matter what form – gasoline, electricity, heating oil, natural gas,” Rell said in the press release. “There will need to be adjustments in the state budget to account for the lost revenue from the income tax credit. But we must first and foremost be concerned about our citizens. Giving this credit to taxpayers is the right thing to do.“Not to be upstaged, Williams and House Speaker James Amann (D-Milford) quickly led their own press conference the following day, asking for a $23.3 million expansion of the state’s energy assistance program, a rate increase for nursing homes to deal with heating costs, and a sales tax holiday for home weatherization products.Asked if Rell’s income tax credit was dead on arrival, Williams said the Democrats’ idea helps more needy people, because families making less than $40,000 a year usually don’t pay much state income tax.“In terms of a tax credit concept, yes, I welcome the governor’s thinking about this,” Williams said. “Does ours do a better job? Yes.“Legislative action on home heating should come sometime this month, Williams added.No such specific timeframe is yet predicted for campaign finance reform, and state Capitol insiders were split as to whether this jouting on home heating would wind up detracting from that debate. Some believe Democratic leaders feel an obligation to pass some kind of reform bill, while others think they are looking for a way out, and changing the subject would help them accomplish it.