Sen. Witkos Fights for Taxpayers, Democrats Pass Budget with $2 Billion Tax Hike

June 8, 2015
Lawmakers in the Senate Chamber during the closing day of the legislative session awaiting the vote on the state budget. From left to right: Senator Dante Bartolomeo, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr, Senator Martin M. Looney (background), Senator Kevin Witkos, Senator Gary Winfield.

Lawmakers in the Senate Chamber during the closing day of the legislative session awaiting the vote on the state budget. From left to right: Senator Dante Bartolomeo, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr, Senator Martin M. Looney (background), Senator Kevin Witkos, Senator Gary Winfield.

Hartford Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore, voted against the state budget for fiscal years 2016-2017 negotiated by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and legislative Democrats behind closed doors. The budget, which passed the Senate late last night and now heads to the governor’s desk, includes a $2 billion tax increase, the second largest tax increase in state history. This budget also included cuts and changes that would place added burdens on middle and working class families as well as employers of all sizes.

“This budget was built by the governor breaking his campaign promise that he would not raise taxes,” said Sen. Witkos. “I fear this budget will be the final nail in the coffin for countless families and employers contemplating leaving this state due to ever increasing burdens on the middle class. I voted no on this budget because Connecticut cannot afford another tax hike. This budget fails to change the direction our state is moving.”

After starting the Senate debate on the state budget bill around 5:30 pm on Wednesday June 3, Senate Republicans attempted to push for a special session on the budget by running out the clock on the legislative session which ended at midnight.

The Republican filibuster was halted when Democrat lawmakers attempted to force a vote and Republicans ended their debate.

Republicans proposed their own budget, a “Blueprint for Prosperity,” earlier this year that restored many of the governor’s proposed cuts to social services without raising taxes.

Legislative Republicans have fought against the Democrat’s budget proposal by launching an online petition urging the public to tell their lawmakers to say “no” to new taxes at The petition garnered over 10,000 signatures. Lawmakers also held a public information hearing at the state Capitol to give the public an opportunity to share their opinion on the proposed new taxes in the Democrats’ budget. Over 900 people submitted testimony and 100 testified in person, filling three hearing rooms at the Legislative Office Building.

“We want to thank everyone who spoke out about the tax proposals. Your phone calls, your testimony, and your presence at the Capitol made it very clear that this budget was not in the best interest of our state and our taxpayers. You inspired me to fight hard against these tax hikes. Passing this budget represents a sad day for Connecticut. Instead of putting our state on a better path, this drive us further down a road of economic trouble. We have to continue fighting for change in our state,” said Witkos.

The biennial budget will implement the following tax hikes, new taxes, and cuts impacting families across the state:

  • Reduces the Property Tax Credit from $300 to $200, impacting many individuals who own a home or a car. Totals a $152 million money grab by the state. 81% of those who utilize the tax credit have annual incomes less than $100,000; 66% have annual incomes less than $75,000; 44% have annual incomes less than $50,000.
  • Repeals the scheduled sales tax exemption for clothing/footwear under $50 and reduces the sales tax holiday from applying only to items under $100 instead of $300. Represents a $280 million tax hike.
  • Implements a 3% sales tax on the World Wide Web (including digital downloads and ebooks), a new $55 million tax.
  • Implements a sales tax on car washes, a new tax totaling $13.6 million.
  • Delays the scheduled increase in the Personal Exemption for Single Filers. According to the Department of Revenue Services Personal Income Tax Study of January 2014, 90% of single filers had $75,000 or less of state income. Totals a tax increase of $10.8 million in FY 2016.
  • Reduces the burial benefit provided to indigent people by $400 giving their loved ones $1,400 to pay for a funeral.
  • Takes away funding for the Veterans honor guard which means no gun salute at a military service members funeral
  • Implements a sales tax on motor vehicle parking, a new tax totaling $12.2 million.
  • Taxes ambulatory surgical centers that perform procedures such as cancer screenings. A $35 million new tax.
  • Increases the Hospital Tax. A $211 million annual increase in taxes on hospitals. Added costs will be passed onto patients.
  • Delays increase in Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax hike of $22 million on working class families
  • Triples the Computer Data & Processing sales tax rate, a tax hike of over $140 million.
  • A $500 million tax hike on businesses, which will make it difficult for employers to grow jobs and remain competitive. Jobs affect every single family in our state from all walks of life.

This week many of Connecticut’s largest employers joined the public in criticizing Gov. Malloy and Connecticut Democrats for their plan to raise taxes.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. employs more than 47,000 worldwide said this:

  • “Implementing the current, short-sighted tax proposals will stifle innovation, especially research and development of critical medicines, and have far-reaching implications on our ability to plan and make long-term business decisions. The current proposal will undermine the financial feasibility of continued capital investments at our Ridgefield/Danbury site.”

Aetna, which employs 7,450, had this to say:

  • “Connecticut is in danger of damaging its economic future by failing to address its budget obligation in a responsible way. Such action will result in Aetna looking to reconsider the viability of continuing major operations in the state.”

General Electric, which employs 6,300, said this:

  • “Retroactively raising taxes again on Connecticut’s residents, businesses and services makes businesses, including our own, and citizens seriously consider whether it makes any sense to continue to be located in this state.”

Travelers, which employs 6,200 people, said the following:

  • “Raising taxes again will increase the cost of living for nearly every resident and small business in the state, negatively impacting our employees and customers.”

The budget now heads to the governor’s desk where he will have 15 days to either sign or veto the budget.