HARTFORD, CT — Democratic legislative leaders exited a meeting with their Republican colleagues Tuesday and said they expect to release a budget proposal Wednesday that includes a sales tax increase.
The budget that Democratic legislative leaders will release Wednesday would increase the sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent.
The proposal still doesn’t have the full support of the Senate Democratic caucus or Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who said it seems as though they’re still leading with revenue.
“We should analyze budget proposals based on whether they are structurally in balance,” Malloy said.
Asked if the moderates in his caucus would support a sales tax increase, Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said, “We have broad-based but not unanimous support for that.”
It’s unlikely to win any Republican support, either.
“I still have the same position that I had before,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said. “Tax increases are not something we are interested in at this point in time.”
Klarides said if they’re not focused on structural changes, then the rest of the conversation is moot.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the budget they will release Wednesday is a starting point for negotiations.
“The majority of our tax increases allow us to keep the towns as harmless as we can,” Aresimowicz said. “There are some municipal cuts that will come out in our budget.”
Aresimowicz said they want their budget to be the foundation for negotiations.
Asked if he expects to have any Republican support for the budget document he will unveil Wednesday, Aresimowicz said “they’ll like parts of it.”
However, he said that if they put the budget they release Wednesday up on the board, it would have to pass the House with only Democratic votes.
“I don’t want to do it that way,” Aresimowicz said.
He said he wants to release a bipartisan agreement.
A budget vote isn’t expected until the week of Sept. 11. Malloy has been operating the state under an executive order since July 1.
Last week, Malloy announced changes to that executive order and it wasn’t well received by municipalities and legislative leaders who represent those municipalities.
Looney said there’s more pressure to get a budget adopted regardless of what form it takes.
“I think it would be best to have a bipartisan vote in the end,” Looney added.
He said he thinks Malloy’s proposed changes to the executive order were “calculated to heighten the pressure” and to demonstrate the pain the towns will experience if there’s not a budget by mid-September.
Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders said they would revise their budget proposals to reflect the $1.57 billion labor concession package, adopted on a mostly party line vote in July.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the labor deal is done — they fought against it, but they have to respect the process.
“To ignore a budget because we don’t like that this was passed isn’t fair to the state of Connecticut,” Fasano said, referring to the labor deal.
Malloy reminded reporters that the reason the state is facing such a large budget deficit is because previous governors struck labor deals and then didn’t fund them.