Witkos: Governor needs to get that red pen out and veto this budget [FoxCT]

June 15, 2015

Fox CT
HARTFORD — Gov. Dan Malloy proposed changes in the budget at a news conference Friday morning. He says the revisions will cap and reduce some taxes that were passed by the Legislature earlier this month.

Malloy said the proposals would include reduce spending and eliminate business taxes, and preserve transportation and property tax reform. He said he arrived at the proposals after discussions with business leaders and residents.

“It’s a budget we should be proud of,” said Malloy, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to listen to the voices of Connecticut.”

Some of the proposals included changing the computer and data processing tax, which would be maintained at 1 percent instead of a proposed increase to 3 percent; eliminating the sales tax on car washes and parking; and eliminate taxes on the Internet would also be set at 1 percent. The total reductions would lower revenue by $223.7 million over two years.

He said the Legislature could make up the reductions in revenue by cutting spending or granting his office the authority to make reductions of up to 1.5 percent of spending across the board.

Malloy called the 1.5 percent reduction “doable.” The reductions would apply to all items in the budget and all government agencies, with the exception of items that were legally required to be set at appropriated levels. That would include aid to towns and cities, and even hospitals whose leaders were vocal about a tax hike and lower Medicaid reimbursements this week.

He said it would be a mistake to roll back the progress made in property tax reform and transportation funding. Malloy made a point of saying he would not do what other governors have done and balancing the budget by reducing spending on long term obligations like pensions.

The proposals go to the legislature which will meet in a special session at the end of the month. The legislature must make the changes and send the budget back to Malloy for him to sign into law. The budget must be signed by July 1st, the start in of the new fiscal year. The governor said he expected the changes to be written into the budget implementer, a set of bills that outline policy provisions that are required to put the budget in place. The implementer often contains other amendments that bypass the normal hearing review process, like changes in policy that did not make it through the session.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities called for more transparency in the budget process and suggested that, as a non-partisan group of cities and towns, should be included in the budget process.

Gov. Malloy has come under fire since state lawmakers passed the budget. Some major companies, including GE and Aetna, have threatened to leave the state due to high taxes.

“I think a lot of what a governor has to do is lead and lead in the best direction as possible,” said Malloy. “Also, hearing what businesses and individuals are saying.”

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association was pleased by the news. Joe Brennan, the president and CEO of the CBIA, said the group is happy that Malloy is “putting on the table a plan that reduced the cost of delivering state services, so we can begin to mitigate some of the damage from these harmful tax increases.”

Gov. Malloy is also traveling overseas this weekend. He is scheduled to meet with executives from Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, to discuss the possibility of adding a direct flight from Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks to Dublin.

After attending the Paris Air Show on Sunday and Monday, Malloy is scheduled to visit Berlin. Malloy’s office said the governor was invited by the Vera Institute of Justice to meet with German criminal justice officials, tour a prison and discuss his proposed Second Chance Society legislation.

Democratic leadership gathered with mayors on Friday for a press conference previously scheduled to praise the budget passed, saying it will bring property tax relief. However, the conference was scheduled before Malloy announced his proposal.

“We just heard about this proposal about an hour ago,” said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, “So I think we’re still in the stage of digesting what the governor’s proposing.”

While municipal leaders at the event stood in favor of the budget, they too would be hit by the across the board cuts.

Are they concerned?

“I’m not worried about it,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “The governor and the Legislature both have municipalities’ best interest at heart.”

Democrats in the Legislature say they will consider the governor’s proposal, but they will need to discuss it and vote on it.

As for Republicans, they believe Malloy should scrap the budget altogether.

“The governor has gone a little bit down the road but he needs to go a lot farther,” said Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton. “He needs to get that red pen out and veto this budget. It’s the only way we can right the problems in Connecticut.”