The legislature’s Republican leadership has unleashed a “No New Connecticut Taxes” rallying cry in opposition to a Democratic proposal to raise tax revenue by roughly $1.8 billion.
Republican lawmakers are hoping the public will put enough pressure on lawmakers to shelve most, if not all, of the proposed tax increases. The effort includes an online petition and a public hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 11.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, unveiled their new website, www.NoNewCTTaxes.com, in a press release Tuesday. In addition to the petition, the site also includes a way to submit testimony for Monday’s hearing.
The pair touted a Republican alternative budget that would restore some of the governor’s proposed cuts affecting the elderly, disabled, libraries, and parks. Instead of increasing taxes, the alternative calls for about $600 million in labor concessions, reductions in overtime costs, and the creation of a hybrid 401k style pension plan.
“We have seen $6.4 billion in tax increases over the last four years,” Klarides said. “Enough is enough. No more. Republicans have proposed a thoughtful, balanced alternative budget which does not raise taxes and which protects our most vulnerable residents.”
The Republican proposal asks the governor to find $253 million annually in savings his administration was never able to find after it inked a deal with the coalition of state unions four years ago. The $253 million in savings from the so-called “employee suggestion box” and technology improvements was never achieved. The Republican budget suggests the unions should help the administration find those savings.
Malloy told reporters Monday that the Republican directive to find money is not realistic.
“Republicans, you don’t get to spend the same amount of money and pretend you’re going to pull it out of a hat,” he said.
Malloy also criticized the legislative Democrats’ budget proposal, which he said doesn’t make enough “tough choices” when it comes to spending cuts.
His administration has also said that the legislative Democrats’ recommended tax increase asks too much of Connecticut’s middle class and small businesses.
Fasano had even harsher words for the tax proposal. “Families and businesses will get absolutely slammed by these massive tax hikes and new taxes if they pass,” he said.
The legislative Democrats’ revenue package, approved last week by the Finance Committee, would broaden the sales tax base, implement a 2 percent capital gains tax, and raise the personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.
Malloy on Monday did not comment specifically on taxes, saying only that he is listening to people’s ideas. “But I think uniformly folks don’t want to see the kind of revenue raised that some Democrats want to see raised and they don’t want to play fantasy games that some Republicans play,” he said.
Malloy had promised not to propose tax increases on the campaign trail last year, but has dodged questions about whether he would sign onto a legislative tax increase as part of an overall budget deal.
A spokesman for the Senate Democratic caucus said they won’t “participate in the Republicans’ political theater.”
Adam Joseph, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said the Republicans should hold a hearing on their “unrealistic budget that proposes a half billion dollars in Rowland-esque cuts to Connecticut’s workforce.”
He defended the Democratic budget as “balanced” and said “it provides new aid to cities and towns while at the same time capping municipal property tax growth.”