After meeting with Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell for the second day in a row, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, and Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said they asked for daily meetings with Rell until a budget deal is brokered.
Standing outside the House of Representatives Tuesday, Donovan and Williams said they presented Rell with some options and are scheduled to meet with her again Wednesday, but remained tight-lipped about the negotiations.
“The difference between us is not as great as it was a month ago,” Williams said optimistically. However, Democratic lawmakers said an increased income tax is still in their budget proposal.
Increasing the relatively flat 5 percent income tax on the state’s wealthier residents has been one of the main differences between the two budget proposals.
Rell’s budget increases taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and corporate profits by $391 million and increases licensing fees and permits by $133 million, while the Democratic budget proposal increases taxes by $1.8 billion, most of which comes from the proposed income tax hike.
“Because folks are negotiating. Because we’ve met every day this week, we’ve made some progress,” Williams said. “We need to meet every single day of the week and into the weekend, if that’s necessary.”
Williams said he wouldn’t say a deal is imminent, but meeting every day this week is a signal that everyone is working toward resolving this sooner rather than later.
Rell’s office was not immediately available for comment, so it was uncertain if she will agree to marathon talks.
In 1991 when then Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. proposed the states first income tax he was able to broker a budget deal with the legislature by Aug. 22. Even if this week’s budget negotiations are going smoothly it seems likely that the state won’t have a budget before Aug. 22.
Lawmakers reserved Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 for a special session to borrow money to cover this year’s close to $1 billion deficit. If they fail to act before Sept. 1 the $1.4 billion rainy day fund will automatically be used to cover that deficit. Rell and lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, have agreed to use the $1.4 billion rainy day fund in 2010 and 2011 and borrow the money needed to cover this year’s deficit.