It was clear before the legislative session began Feb. 6 that House and Senate Democrats were not on the same page on at least one issue: the economy.
Under Speaker James Amann’s leadership, House Democrats were hesitant – like Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell – to support refunds for taxpayers. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats under the leadership of Senate President Donald Williams wanted to help Connecticut’s families by giving back an estimated $160 million surplus.
Did someone get the wrong memo? The session hadn’t even started yet, and two of the state’s top Democrats couldn’t even agree to publicly acknowledge that giving money back to taxpayers may be a good idea.
Not to worry. They discussed it over lunch last week.
During said lunch, Williams tried to convince Amann to support his tax refund plan by using the millions in tax credits Amann is seeking for Blue Sky Studios as a bargaining chip to win his support.
Would he go for it? Not so much.
In the lobby of the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday, Amann said the “fairness of it is a little bit off.” Amann said that since the tax credits for Blue Sky already have been planned and would immediately bring 300 new jobs to the state, it’s unfair for Williams to hold Blue Sky hostage with a newly devised refund plan that may never happen if the surplus dips below $100 million.
It isn’t the first time the state’s top two Democrats have disagreed, though Amann noted he likes Williams’ second tax refund plan—which is conditional on the amount of the surplus—better than the initial proposal.
But the appearance of a rift between the two has not gone unnoticed, particularly by the folks in Rell’s office.
“It is unfortunate that the governor dispatched her gremlins to try and sow dissension in the legislature instead of leading the way for tax relief for Connecticut’s families,” said Derek Slap, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, Tuesday evening. He added that he hopes the “Speaker doesn’t fall into the governor’s trap of trying to divide the Democrats.”
Last year, there was so much fighting between the two Democratic caucuses that the Republicans ended up stealing the show and killing the “veto-proof” majority’s plan to make the income tax structure more progressive.
Is anyone wondering what’s on the horizon for the Republicans this year?
Inside the Capitol (ITC) is made up of gossip and other tidbits we pick up around the capitol and legislative offices. This week’s ITC is by Christine Stuart.