Senate Republicans predicted that the state will face a $2 billion deficit following the Nov. 8 election and they want the majority Democratic Party to express a sense of urgency to resolve it along with a handful of other issues they detailed Thursday at a press conference.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the state needs to act now before more residents pack up and leave the state.
Part of his pitch to stay was a proposal not to tax pension income under $100,000 and to increase the property tax credit for individuals and families making less than $100,000 a year. Fasano also proposed getting rid of about 200 nuisance taxes and fees that only bring in about 0.15 percent of total state revenue.
How much would those proposals cost?
Fasano said the reduction in taxes on pensions would be about $172.3 million and the reinstatement of the property tax credit would cost about $153.5 million. However, phasing in the pension proposal over five years would cost $17.2 million per year and the property tax credit would cost about $24.9 million per year over six years.
How are the Republicans going to pay for the reduction in revenue at the same time they deal with what they expect to be a $2 billion budget deficit?
“We are in a death spiral because of the economic policies that go unimpeded by the Democrat majority and one-party rule over the past six years,” Fasano said. “That’s without a doubt.”
He said they’re going to have to pull that state out of a “dive spin” and part of that is making sure they stop the “exodus of businesses and taxpayers from this state.”
Another part of that involves eliminating funds for the First Five program, which gives low interest loans and other incentives to companies that promise to create more than 200 jobs in the state. However, most of the money for that program comes from capital funds, which are bonded.
He also suggested reducing the size of the legislative bureaucracy from 27 to 15 committees to save an estimated $950,000. At the same time Republicans want to restore funding for day care services for families with incomes between $26,760 and $44,000. That proposal would cost the state $33 million.
“Republicans must have received some polling data showing that people are tired of their tactic of relentlessly tearing down Connecticut without offering a responsible plan,” Adam Joseph, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic caucus, said. “However, what they offered today was just more political pandering, which they don’t even pretend will balance, and regarding which they offered absolutely no details on how they will achieve it.”
In the short-term, Fasano said the state could let people know it wasn’t going to study a hypothetical mileage tax, which would tax people based on the miles they drive. He also believes there should be hearings about that changes to Connecticut’s insurance exchange and proposed fare hikes for bus and Metro-North rail riders.
“I’m tired of waiting,” Fasano said. “We are in desperate need for action on a lot of these things.”
Should the part-time legislature consider becoming full-time?
“I would not support a full-time legislature because I’m afraid of what they would do,” Fasano said.
However, Fasano said he thinks action should be taken if there’s a “crisis” and he believes there’s a crisis.
He dismissed suggestions that Thursday’s press conference to unveil a document titled “A Confident Future,” detailing the Republicans’ 2017 legislative agenda, was more about their campaign efforts to gain a majority in the Senate.
Republicans need to pick up four seats in the Senate to gain a 19-17 majority over the Democrats.