(Updated 8:52 p.m.) Even as policymakers were hammering out the details of a budget that projects an estimated $1.3 billion deficit in 2016, gubernatorial candidates said Friday they wouldn’t need to raise taxes to make up any shortfalls.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is seeking election for a second term in November, said the expectation of more than a billion deficit in 2016 “isn’t real” because the state will not actually spend money the way the projection assumes. He said he had no intention of issuing a spending plan that would allow the budget to go into deficit and will not raise taxes.
“There will be no tax increase in the future. We will not overspend,” he said. “We have a pretty consistent rate of increase of spending… What I’m saying is the proof in the pudding is what we’ve performed and we’ve performed pretty darn well.”
Asked if he would ever sign another tax increase, Malloy said he had “no intention” of raising taxes again. The governor cited the world falling “off a cliff” or the earth ceasing to rotate in 24 hours as eventualities that might disrupt his plan not to raise taxes.
In 2010, Malloy refused to rule out tax increases and his first budget included a $1.8 billion tax increase to help close a $3.6 billion deficit.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, one of several Republicans seeking the party’s nomination to run against Malloy, also said he would not need to raise taxes to deal with the projected deficit if he were elected governor.
“We know the next governor faces a $2.7 billion budget deficit,” he said, referring to combined projections for 2016 and 2017. “We know that’s a difficult issue to deal with. But you can solve our problems without raising taxes. In fact, this governor’s promised not to raise taxes so obviously he agrees that the problems can be solved without raising taxes as well.”
McKinney accused Malloy of already proposing to raise taxes by delaying the reinstatement of a planned tax exemption on clothes.
Heath Fahle, manager of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton’s gubernatorial campaign, said Boughton would not raise taxes if elected and facing a deficit.
“The mayor has been pretty clear his focus as governor would be on reducing spending, reforming Gov. Malloy’s corporate welfare strategy and making changes to make Connecticut more competitive, certainly not raising taxes,” he said.
Joe Visconti, a former West Hartford Town Councilor seeking the Republican nomination, also ruled out tax increases. He said the state should “act as if we’re in bankruptcy court” and reduce spending where it can.
“Any more tax increases will finish us. The state is bleeding jobs and small businesses. The state just can’t handle another tax increase,” he said. “I think everything is on the table except layoffs and tax increases. We should shrink government where we can but do it without layoffs.”
Through a spokesman, Tom Foley said he would not raise taxes to close a deficit if he were elected. Foley, the 2010 Republican nominee who is seeking a rematch this year, called Friday for the resignation of Malloy’s budget secretary for not anticipating a decline in state revenues.
Avon attorney Martha Dean said she also would not raise taxes.
“As governor, my administration will go into immediate triage mode. We are in code blue,” Dean said. “I will not raise taxes, and will instead push large scale tax reform while making immediate and dramatic cuts to state spending.”
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti said that raising taxes as Malloy did his first year in office didn’t work.
“If we have learned anything from the Malloy administration it’s taxing more doesn’t generate more revenue, or keep businesses in Connecticut or create more jobs,” Lauretti said. “Stabilizing and then lowering taxes will create the needed incentives for businesses to want to be here and people to be able to retire here in.”