BRIDGEPORT, CT – Just days ahead of his second budget proposal and State of the State address, Gov. Ned Lamont signaled Monday that his cards are on the table.
At an event Monday in Bridgeport, Lamont said that aside from the transportation plan that he announced last year and is still trying to pass, he has no plans to increase spending, decrease taxes, or to announce any other sweeping new policies in 2020.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who was also at the event, said the administration is planning to celebrate the victories they had last year – like the increase in the minimum wage, gun-safety measures, eliminating tuition at the University of Connecticut for in-state families making less than $50,000 a year, and making child care more affordable.
Lamont joined other state and local officials to celebrate the allocation of an additional federal funding to help 300 parents keep their childcare subsidies despite earning a little more at work.
“We’re doing everything we can to make this state more affordable for the middle class,” Lamont said.
It’s a message he will help drive home Wednesday when he addresses the General Assembly during his second state-of-state speech.
Meanwhile, the property tax relief he promised on the campaign trail in 2018 was not something he mentioned Monday.
On the campaign trail in 2018, Lamont said he wanted to increase the property tax credit for middle class homeowners to $300. The credit is currently $200 for individuals over the age of 65 or families with dependents. Individuals without kids who own a home currently don’t qualify for the credit.
Under Lamont’s campaign proposal, individuals with incomes up to $138,500 and married couples earning up to $160,500 would be able to qualify for the credit, which would increase the revenue loss to the state by $165 million a year.
The revenue loss to the state would increase to $400 million in the third and fourth year of the proposal, but it would give some taxpayers who pay more than 6.5% of their income taxes in property taxes up to a $1,200 tax credit.
For every dollar of property tax relief that goes out the door, the state needs to replace it by spending less or taxing more in another area.
On Monday, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo predicted that the state would end the year with a $58.8-million budget deficit.
Lamont said while the deficit prediction was true, the budget also is showing a “$300 million surplus.” But all of that money has to go to the Rainy Day Fund under the volatility cap adopted in 2017.
Lamont said they are going to erase the deficit “without raising any tax rates.”
Lamont said there’s a very strict spending cap in place and there are rules about what he can do and what he can’t do when it comes to the budget.
One way around the spending cap in the past has been to instead borrow the money the state needs for various things through the Bond Commission. Lamont has said he’s not interested in doing that. He said he’s agreed to put $1.7 billion on the state’s credit card in 2020, but he needs the legislature to approve his truck-only tolling plan first.
Meanwhile, he said he would be going to Washington at the end of the week to lobby on Connecticut’s behalf so that the state can get more money back from the federal government.