It’s the second group of business executives to endorse Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget delivering a body blow to Republican lawmakers still working on an alternative budget. The first business group to endorse Malloy’s budget was the Business Council of Fairfield County.
This letter from the five chief executive officers of the largest financial services and insurance companies in the state also adds to the pressure Democratic lawmakers are feeling as they iron out a deal with Malloy before releasing their own budget. The Democrat-controlled Appropriations and Finance Committees are expected to release their proposals next week.
Top officials from Aetna, Travelers, CIGNA, United Technologies Corporation, and The Hartford Financial Services Group sent a letter to legislative leaders Thursday, but the letter didn’t reach Republicans until Friday afternoon.
“We write today to urge the General Assembly to work with Governor Malloy to produce a credible balanced budget which addresses both short-term deficits and long-term structural liabilities,” the five CEO’s wrote. In the letter they conceded some kind of tax increases were necessary in order to balance the budget within the framework presented by Malloy.
“We recognize that limited, reasonable tax increases on businesses and individuals may also be required as part of a shared sacrifice to close the massive and unprecedented budget gap that confronts us,” Mark Bertolini of Aetna, Brian MacLean of Travelers, David Cordani of CIGNA, Louis Chenevert of UTC, and Liam McGee of The Hartford, wrote.
The very existence of the letter infuriated House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero.
“It is a selfish, shameless letter written by five men who have dinner with the governor,” Cafero said Friday. “However, these same men often come first to the Republicans when they need help preserving a health business climate.”
He said they didn’t even wait to see the alternative budget Republicans will trot out in the next few weeks. Cafero said he has to wonder if the five CEO’s who collectively employee 50,000 residents consulted their employees before writing this letter. His guess is they didn’t.
He said their employees are the people who will lose a portion of their property taxes and will be paying more income, sales, and gas taxes as a result of this budget.
By endorsing Malloy’s framework, the CEO’s have essentially endorsed the specifics because Malloy refuses to increase his spending cuts in order to reduce his tax package.
The governor’s office confirmed Malloy had an evening meeting with the five CEO’s on March 31.
“As every day goes by, more and more business leaders are supporting Governor Malloy’s budget – and it’s support he greatly appreciates,” Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser said. “What these business leaders are telling him is that they appreciate his tough, honest approach to getting the state’s fiscal house in order. They’re telling him that a stable fiscal climate will lead to a better business climate. And that a better business climate will lead to real job growth – which is a goal we can all agree on.”