Despite speculation that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell will veto it the Senate returned to the Capitol Thursday and passed a Democratic budget, which increases taxes by an estimated $2.5 billion.
But not all 24 of the Democratic senators voted in favor of their own party’s budget. The final vote was 19-16 with five Democratic senators joining 11 Republicans to vote against the budget. Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, was absent.
Democratic Senators Joan Hartley of Waterbury, Bob Duff of Norwalk, Gayle Slossberg of Milford, Ed Meyer of Guilford, and Paul Doyle of Wethersfield voted against the budget.
Following the vote, Slossberg said she didn’t think the budget struck the right balance between spending cuts and tax increases. She said she would like to see more spending cuts and fewer tax increases.
“It’s not at a level I felt comfortable with,” Slossberg said.
“My thought it was a bulls-eye for Fairfield County,” Duff said.
He said increasing business taxes, estate taxes, and income taxes is not in the “long-term” interests of the state of Connecticut.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said the governor hasn’t been saying “nice things” about the budget the Senate passed Thursday, but hopes she will keep an open mind.
He said even in good times its rare for the legislature to pass a budget with two-thirds approval.
Ultimately, “the people of Connecticut want a solution where the governor and the legislature come together,” he said.
Republicans criticized the $35.5 billion two-year budget for raising the corporate surcharge by 25 percent, imposing a temporary 30 percent surcharge on estates, and increasing income taxes on married couples earning $500,000 a year and individuals earning $265,000 a year.
Click here to see a chart of the income tax increases.
The budget also includes selling $112 million in unidentified state assets, increases the cigarette tax by 75 cents per pack, and closes two unidentified prisons.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, said his party received the budget at 9 a.m. Thursday morning. He said he doesn’t think the governor is going to sign it, but he hopes like Williams that it will renew bipartisan budget talks with the governor.
Shortly after passing the budget Rell sent out a statement criticizing it.
“The Democrats’ budget goes in precisely the wrong direction at precisely the wrong time,” Rell said.
“It is neither balanced nor remotely realistic,” Rell said. “The nearly $3 billion in new and higher taxes is troubling – but what is of equal concern is the out of control spending. This budget squanders a golden opportunity to reshape and reduce the size of state government. Instead, it maintains the bloat of bureaucracy that is already unaffordable.”
Rell also pointed out in her statement that the Democratic budget did not include the transportation budget, which accounted for at least $1.137 billion of the $18.4 billion budget this year.
McKinney said the Democratic budget offered less than $200 million in new cuts and failed to say which state assets it would be selling. He also pointed out that after hammering away at the governor’s budget because it did not close the $8.7 billion deficit estimated by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis—the Democratic budget fell about $263 million short of closing OFA’s latest deficit projection.
The House of Representatives is expected to return to the Capitol Friday to pass the budget.