Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Senate President Martin Looney (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s Senate Democratic leadership wants Connecticut Republicans who don’t speak up about their party’s tax reform plans in Washington to be held accountable, if the “punitive” tax changes end up becoming law.

At a Legislative Office Building press conference, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said Connecticut Republicans might not have a vote on the issue, but “it comes down to whether or not they support the Trump tax cuts and are they using their bully pulpit like we’re using our bully pulpit to sound the alarm on what this will do to our state.”

He said they want to make sure Connecticut voters are talking about what the tax changes would mean for a majority of the state’s middle class.

“We’re sounding that alarm and encouraging our Republican colleagues in the General Assembly to also express their alarm about these and [to] contact their contacts in Washington,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.

There are no Republicans in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation. All five House members and Connecticut’s two U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have opposed the tax changes.

Looney said more than 300,000 Connecticut households, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, would see a tax increase under the Republican proposal. The proposal would also reduce state and local tax deductions taken by more than 700,000 tax filers in Connecticut.

Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said his Democratic colleagues should stop focusing on Washington, “which they have absolutely no control over,” and focus on the financial problems in Connecticut.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office announced Monday that the state is facing a $202.8 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year. The news comes a few days after Malloy used the power the General Assembly gave him as part of the budget to cut municipal aid by about $91 million.

“While today we heard a lot of rhetoric about an issue state lawmakers have zero influence over, I wish we had seen the same level of outrage and call for action when it comes to policies we actually can control,” Fasano said. “Instead of distracting from Connecticut issues with Washington partisan politics, state legislative leaders should be working on policy solutions to the problems here at home.”

Duff said the most significant piece of legislation pending in Congress right now is the Republican tax reform proposal — one version already passed the U.S. House and a similar version is pending in the U.S. Senate.

For Democratic leaders in high-tax states like Connecticut, eliminating the state and local tax deduction means a rising federal tax burden on more than 700,000 Connecticut residents.

It could also put downward pressure on municipalities and states to lower their tax burden. And it could be accompanied by deeper cuts to social service programs, Medicare, and Medicaid, because it adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said it’s “hysterical that Democrats in Connecticut who have destroyed the state want to tell anyone how to do budgeting or tax reform.”

Duff, a realtor, said that while consumer confidence is picking up, these “half-baked” tax ideas will set the state back.

Romano said Democrats, who raised taxes on Connecticut residents twice over the past seven years, have “no credibility” on the issue.

Senate Democrats criticize Republican tax plan.

Posted by on Tuesday, November 21, 2017