It’s been two weeks since the regular legislative session adjourned.
As lawmakers headed back home to their cities and towns the reality of not passing a new budget and sticking with two-year budget the General Assembly approved in 2007 began to sink in, Republicans leaders said Wednesday at a press conference.
Unable to explain why nursing homes and community providers were not receiving an increase and gas taxes are scheduled to go up July 1, Republicans again offered their revised alternative budget proposal saying the legislature should be able to find the political will to do something when it holds a special session later this summer.
At a press conference later Wednesday afternoon, Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, responded by telling the Republicans to “Put the stick down. The horse is dead stop beating it.”
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Democratic leaders cited declining revenues as the reason why they decided against changes to the budget, which disappointed Republicans who continued to try and amend their budget proposal to a number of bills during the waning days of the regular legislative session.
Rell’s office said Wednesday the Office of Policy and Management is saying the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year is growing while the project deficit for fiscal year 2009 has increased to as much as $150 million.
The Democrat-controlled legislature decided to call a special session later this summer in order to extend the real estate conveyance tax, scheduled to sunset July 1, to help cities and towns keep their local property taxes down. Homeowners pay the real estate conveyance tax when they sell their homes and a portion of it goes to the state and a portion of it goes to cities and towns.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said the Republicans are proposing lowering the states portion of the tax from .50 percent to .35 percent and increasing the percentage going to cities and towns to .25 percent.
In order to make up for the revenue loss to the state Cafero said Republicans are “extending an olive branch” to Democrats by agreeing to their tax amnesty program. He estimated the revenue loss of the real estate conveyance tax to the state would be about $30 to $35 million, about the same amount Democrats estimated a tax amnesty program would bring into the state. Cities and towns would still receive about $35 million from the conveyance tax.
In an emailed statement, Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said “Once again legislative Republicans are out of step with their own governor. Their so-called ‘budget’ is a fantasy – built of false promises – and Gov. Rell knows it.”
“If legislative Republicans really wanted to help working families in Connecticut they would have supported increasing the minimum wage, and reducing health care costs for small businesses and municipalities,” Williams said.
Cafero said he thinks the public will disagree with Democrats and Rell. He said “the public is our best ally,” in putting pressure on Democratic legislators to come to the table and resolve the budget issues.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, said “there’s plenty of time left this fiscal year,” to get things done.
The Republican proposal includes repealing the gross receipts tax on gas scheduled to increase on July 1, phasing out the Business Entity Tax, a voluntary early retirement program for state employees, and saving the Early Reading Success program, which has several towns eliminating their full-day kindergarten programs.