(Updated 2:24 p.m. Friday) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy isn’t the only one taking his budget on the road. Republican lawmakers are taking his budget to their communities too, but the crowds aren’t as big and conversation more casual.
At Ellington Town Hall on Thursday evening Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, R-Stafford Springs, and Rep. Chris Davis, R-East Windsor, gave a fairly balanced 25-minute Power Point presentation on Malloy’s budget proposal.
“One thing about the governor’s budget is—it’s an honest budget,“ Guglielmo said. “But that doesn’t mean I like it,“ he added with a chuckle.
Davis said Malloy had 45 days to put together a budget and that’s admirable even though he doesn’t agree with the way in which it was constructed.
Both Davis and Guglielmo believe Malloy relies too heavily on tax increases and too little on spending cuts.
Ellington resident Ron Honingmann wondered why they’ve heard a lot about the Draconian tax increases and very little about the spending cuts.
Guglielmo explained that Malloy’s budget counts the amount the budget would have risen naturally due to inflation and counts that as a cut. He was unable to give an example of one spending cut in the budget even though Malloy’s budget cuts about $760 million in spending.
According to the Republican Power Point presentation the revenue changes and tax increases account for 58 percent of Malloy’s budget, while 30 percent come from anticipated state employee concessions and just 13 percent from spending reductions.
Guglielmo, a veteran state lawmaker, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the legislature’s Democratic majority tries to add back some of the proposed spending cuts. However, he admitted Malloy doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite to make many changes to his budget. Guglielmo said if Democratic lawmakers add too much back it’s likely Malloy could approach the Republican minority and along with conservative Democrats they could pass a budget without the support of the Democratic majority.
A majority of those in the room Thursday evening wanted to know what they could do to help.
“It’s all about the elections,” Guglielmo said. “Speaker of the House Chris Donovan is a wonderful guy, but…”
Guglielmo stopped himself realizing there was media in the room, then proceeded to recall a conversation he had with Donovan last year. He said he was in Donovan’s office and asked him when they would get serious about fixing the structural problems in the budget. Guglielmo recalled that Donovan patted him on the should and said, “Anthony, Anthony, Anthony. There’s plenty of money in Fairfield County.”
Donovan said on Friday that the conversation never took place. Guglielmo was not immediately available for comment.
On Thursday, Guglielmo went on to talk about the two people he knows who moved out of the state because of the taxes they were being asked to paid. His brother-in-law moved to North Carolina and his former aide moved to Florida where property taxes are capped for those 65 years old.
Davis said he’s more worried about the “brain drain.” He said his friends are moving to other states to find a job and some are leaving without even having a job lead because they know their chances will be better than they are in the Nutmeg state.
“The perception is we’re dead in the water,” Guglielmo said.
One woman said those who attended the meeting Thursday are informed about what’s going on and want to help change the conversation about Connecticut.
“You’re preaching to the choir,” Guglielmo said. “I voted against the last four budgets.”
He tried to explain how the budget process worked with the Democratic majority sitting in their caucus room behind closed doors negotiating with their members for votes. He said Republicans aren’t at the table.
“Until we have the numbers nothing changes,” he said.
Guglielmo recalled that the last time the Republicans held the majority in the Senate was two years after the vote on the income tax. He said it took awhile for people to see the money being withheld from their paychecks before the levers of power swung in favor of the Republicans.
Guglielmo and Davis were also asked if Republicans, as they have for the past four years, will be proposing their own alternative budget proposal. The answer was “yes” but they said they were under strict orders not to talk about what’s in it.
Guglielmo hinted only that there will be “fewer tax increases,” in the Republican proposal.
The crowd encouraged them to come back with the Republican budget proposal.