New Haven Register: Senator Kane Says Governor’s Fund Transfers Are Not Real Spending Cuts

April 19, 2011

New Haven Register
Story as it appeared in the New Haven Register on Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Haven Register — Republican legislators will propose a biennial budget today that they say balances the budget without tax increases and challenges Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s definition of cuts.

The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee is expected to vote on a bill this week, most likely Thursday, the same day that the Appropriations Committee is set to meet on its part of the budget package.

But before that, the GOP minority will offer its version of a budget that closes the projected $3.5 billion deficit for the state.

The Finance Committee is expected to stay within the $1.5 billion in new taxes proposed by Malloy, although there will be some changes in items slated to come off the sales tax exemption list, resurrection of a property tax exemption at the reduced level of $300 and a reduction in the proposed Earned Income Tax Credit.

Sen. Rob Kane of Watertown, ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, contends that Malloy’s $40 billion biennial proposal has cut only $137 million in the first year, rather than the $758 million claimed by the governor.

To maintain the same services supported by the general fund next year, Malloy said would require another $758 million, which he is cutting.

Kane said transferring $27 million budgeted for equipment to bonding is not a cut; nor is removing $9 million for jobs already vacant; anticipating $10 million in savings in the Corrections Department before it is negotiated and removing increases that are required by statute. “The size and cost of state government will be largely unchanged,” Kane said.

Roy Occhiogrosso, special adviser to Malloy, said, “Senator Kane is entitled to his opinion, but these are real cuts in the current services budget.”

The GOP said Malloy is raising taxes by $1.9 billion because of the $300 million tax on hospitals, which is in addition to increases in the sales, gas and income taxes.

The $300 million is a provider tax that is redistributed back to the hospitals, although there will be winners and losers in that reallocation. Occhiogrosso said it will generate $150 million in additional revenue.

The Republicans are expected, in their budget proposal, to include the $2 billion in concessions from state workers over two years that Malloy hopes to achieve in ongoing talks with labor leaders.

“This Republican proposal is a responsible solution that will put Connecticut’s fiscal house back in order. The proposal we will unveil will not tax families who are already trying to survive in a difficult economic environment. We owe the people of Connecticut an alternative to tax increases, that is what this proposal does. I believe residents have made tough decisions in their own household budgets and will understand this is the right path to a sustainable future,” Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said in anticipation of today’s announcement.