Conn. Lawmakers Issue New Plans To Close Massive Budget Gap

May 16, 2017

Democratic leaders in the Connecticut legislature have released a revised budget proposal to balance the state’s next two-year budget.

It calls for the legalization of the retail sale of marijuana and the authorization of at least one new casino. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, says it also paves the way for the reintroduction of highway tolls.

“I think tolls are inevitable in the State of Connecticut. The majority of folks that I talk to are ready for tolls to be reinitiated and go into the special transportation fund.”

Republican leaders also released their revised budget proposal on Tuesday. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Derby Republican, says it calls for plugging the deficit by seeking more labor concessions from state employee unions.

“When over 40 states have statutory ways of dealing with state unions and we do not, the only leverage the governor has is layoffs.”

Neither plan increases sales, personal income, or corporate taxes.

Earlier in the week, Malloy unveiled his updated budget after revenue projections showed Connecticut’s deficit for the coming fiscal year had grown from $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.

Malloy’s revised two-year budget reduces aid to many municipalities by another $362 million in the first year while boosting aid to poorer communities.

The revised budget does not increase income taxes. But it does increase the real estate conveyance tax on properties valued above $800,000 and it eliminates the sales tax exemption for non-prescription drugs.

“This is a budget that is reflective of the current economic environment,” Malloy said.

Malloy's plan still relies on $700 million in state employee concessions, which remain unsettled.

He and the state’s legislative leaders are expected to begin budget talks in the coming days.