The legislature’s Democratic-controlled Finance Committee approved about $1.4 billion in tax increases for next fiscal year despite protest from Republicans. The Democratic-controlled Appropriations Committee followed by passing a plan that spends about $130 million less than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed.
Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, called Thursday a “day of mourning,” because there’s nothing about a tax increase to celebrate.
“When one party gets everything it wants that’s not the best outcome for the state,” he said.
The budget was negotiated by Democratic leadership in the legislature and Malloy, the state’s first Democratic governor in two decades.
“Where is the sacrifice folks?” Rep. Sean Williams, R-Waterford, said. He said the budget asks that the average taxpayer and small business owner to sacrifice, but asks nothing of government and big business.
“If everyone is successful in protecting their own little fiefdoms then nothing changes,” Williams said.
The tax package passed by the Finance Committee Thursday increases taxes on gasoline, retail sales, luxury items, hotels, corporations, and real estate. It was passed 32 to 20 mostly along party lines with two Democrats, Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, and Rep. Charlie Stallworth, D-Bridgeport, voting against the measure.
Sen. Eileen Daily, co-chairwoman of the Finance Committee, said she thinks the committee put “together a good package, a balanced package.”
But Meyer said it’s unprecedented for the committee to vote on a tax package without knowing where the spending cuts will be. He said the governor also hasn’t told the General Assembly where he stands in his negotiations with state labor unions.
“We are ignorant here on these two large parts of the budget,” Meyer said.
Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, told his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee the spending plan will destroy the prosperity the state is beginning to see.
“We need to try to find a way forward that does not include a gigantic tax increase,” Markley said.
When Republicans tried to amend the Democratic budget with their no-tax-increase budget, Sen. Toni Harp, co-chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said with the level of cuts proposed “we would actually slow the state’s economy.”
Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, said she thinks the Democratic budget moves the state forward and urged her colleagues to vote against the Republican amendment.
Walker and Harp touted the consolidations and the decision to continue funding education, public safety, and transportation.
“I’m particularly pleased that with these obligations in mind, we’re able to avoid cuts to municipal aid, to the benefit of local property tax payers, and education funding, to the benefit of today’s students who will soon become tomorrow’s workforce,” Harp said.
The Appropriations Committee voted 33 to 21 on the spending package. Three Democrats Rep. Kim Fawcett of Fairfield, Linda Schofield of Simsbury, and Sen. Joan Hartley of Waterbury joined Republicans and voted against the package.