Klarides: Democrats could break ranks on sales tax hike
House GOP Leader Themis Klarides says an unspecified number of Democrats have confided to her that they won’t support an increase to the state sales tax when their slim majority finally votes on its budget proposal.
The Derby Republican’s expectations are tempered, though, after a controversial labor concessions package passed July 31 along party lines in both legislative chambers, with Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
“I said, ‘I will believe that when you hit the red button,’ ” Klarides said of “no” votes on the budget.
The budget impasse between Republicans and Democrats, who are grappling with a $3.6 billion, two-year deficit, is entering its third month. It’s forced Klarides, the first woman to lead the House Republican caucus, to delay making a decision on whether to run for governor in 2018.
“My job is House Republican leader and we need to have a budget,” Klarides said. “(But) it’s certainly in my mind.”
Democrats have proposed raising the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent, as well as allowing cities and towns to levy an additional 1 percent food and beverage tax.
“I appreciate the fact that the minority leader is putting the time into talking with my caucus members,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. “I would hope that she is putting in the same amount of effort to come up with a balanced budget proposal. In the meantime, I am going to continue to work with my colleagues on a balanced budget plan that moves our state forward.”
Klarides characterized Democrats’ proposed budget as a nonstarter.
“There is a way to do it without tax increases,” said Klarides, who is pushing a GOP alternative that relies on cuts. “It’s not just about cuts. I have a good friend who says, ‘You can’t save your way rich.’ ”
Democrat House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz has summoned lawmakers back for session Sept. 14.
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