Lamont lauds tax cuts; GOP seeks special session to cut more
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — On the same day Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont launched a campaign ad touting recent tax-cutting measures, Connecticut Republicans on Tuesday demanded a special session to cut even more, calling the 25-cent-per-gallon gas tax holiday “embarrassing” now that prices are near $5 a gallon in the state and inflation continues to affect the price of goods and services.
Considering the state is currently flush with cash — Comptroller Natalie Braswell has projected a $956.4 million surplus in the state’s main spending account — GOP legislative leaders proposed using $746.2 million of that money to cut income and sales taxes, suspend the 40.1-cent-per-gallon diesel tax, repeal an upcoming mileage tax on large trucks, and boost energy assistance.
“We have record surpluses of money sitting in the bank and these guys won’t release the money back to the people,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, referring to the governor and the General Assembly’s majority Democrats. “To say that 25 cents a gallon was enough for our residents in tax relief when it’s now over $5 is embarrassing.”
Legislative Republicans have created a website with an online petition to generate support for their call for a special session. They also have plans in the works for a series of rallies around the state, making affordability a key issue in this year’s election. Lawmakers need a majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate to sign a petition, calling themselves back for a special session. It’s unclear whether enough Democrats would support the GOP’s petition effort.
Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said the Republican tax-cutting plan would not jeopardize a planned $2.85 billion additional payment toward the state’s unfunded pension liability and would maintain the $3.3 billion in the state’s budget reserve fund, the maximum allowed. But Democratic legislative leaders claim the GOP plan, which they called “irresponsible,” would “slash $750 million in debt payments” at a cost to taxpayers this year and over the next 25 years.
“Now is not the time for political games. Connecticut will not give you a dollar today to take $100 from your grandchild tomorrow,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, in a joint written statement.
The new Lamont campaign ad recognizes rising costs for everyday items in Connecticut, saying “that’s why Governor Lamont is cutting taxes.” The TV spot focuses on an increased property tax credit against the personal income tax, a cap on local motor vehicle taxes affecting 75 municipalities, and the gas tax holiday until Dec. 1. In total, Democrats say the revised $24.2 billion state budget, set to take effect July 1, includes nearly $500 million in tax reductions.