(Watch) Sen. Kane: More CT tax hikes are not the answer (NBC Connecticut)

March 24, 2015

Article and video as it appeared on NBCConnecticut.com

The chairman of the General Assembly’s Finance Committee says “everything is on the table” in order to balance the state’s budget, and that could include higher taxes for the wealthy.

When asked directly about a possible tax on those who earn more than $1 million per year, State Rep. Jeff Berger, of Waterbury, said it’s a possibility.

“I’m not going to say that’s going to happen. There’s no guarantee that that will happen, but the discussion is that everything is on the table and that we’ll review it and see what becomes feasible,” he explained.

Sources said the notion of a tax on millionaires has been floated privately by Democrats and some Republicans in the Legislative Office Building.

State Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said tax hikes at the current time are not the answer.

“I certainly think this administration and this Democrat-led majority has not met a tax it didn’t like,” said Kane, who represents Watertown.

Kane said the governor’s proposed cuts to social services will eventually be restored, but said that doesn’t mean Democrats have a long-term solution to bolstering programs like Medicaid.

“We on our side of the aisle want to provide that safety net but do it in a better fashion, and the way to do that is by giving it to more private providers, community action agencies, faith-based organizations,” said Kane. “That’s how you save money and still get better results and outcomes from the people you serve.”

Berger said the budget, as it always does, will look very different in June than the one that Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed in February. He stopped short of criticizing it and saying it would be scrapped, but did say changes are coming.

“I think he presented a document and his constitutional charge has been achieved. It’s up to the legislature now to review that document and come up with an alternative,” said Berger. “I will say that it is my strong belief that the document will have a different look on it once we’ve completed this process.”

Berger said he’s had conversations specifically about allowing Keno in Connecticut and that lawmakers are considering the possibility of expanding gambling in the state.

“We’re looking at Keno. If we’re going to allow gaming to move beyond reservations, then we cannot disregard our Connecticut Lottery, which is a thriving business,” he said.

On supporting social services, Berger said his committee will look to keep them whole.

“I think the budget that has been presented to us has some flaws and certainly on a delivery of service to those people that need it the most,” he said.