Lawmakers propose to raise taxes amid budget discussions - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers propose to raise taxes amid budget discussions

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

Things are becoming desperate as lawmakers struggle to find ways to fix the state's budget crisis.

One of the latest proposals from democrats is raising taxes, including the state sales tax.

Cities and towns are usually against raising taxes, but in this case, it could help reduce one of the worst burdens for many homeowners, and that's the property tax.

So town leaders are supporting a bill to raise the state sales tax.

The current rate is 6.35 percent. The increase would be higher than that, but under 7 percent.

"The over burden that we are placing on the property tax is really destroying us economically. That's what is smothering out our communities and smothering us as a state,” said Joe Delong, director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM).

CCM said sales tax revenue could help reduce the property tax burden. This would do what many states do and provide a variety of sources of revenue, so towns are not solely reliable on property taxes.

State lawmakers are grasping at ways to raise revenue with huge projected deficits well over $3 billion in the next two years.

One of the proposals would be to allow cities and towns to tax properties at their full value.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said that would be devastating.

"I can't support a property tax hike because that would kill the city - we have to make our cities competitive again and make our state competitive again,” Bronin said.

But republican lawmakers say they're against higher taxes no matter who may benefit.

"This isn't about republicans don't like taxes, democrats do. This is about how are we going to fix the state of Connecticut. It's about having a vision for the future. And that's not what's been going on in this building,” said Republican Minority Leader State Rep. Themis Klarides.

Republicans say there are no tax increases in their budget, however that budget is still a work in progress.

On Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee reached a stalemate, and the parties are blaming each other.

Democrats said they will continue budget talks but are angry with republicans for going against some of the things they agreed on.

Some of the sticking points are Gov. Malloy's plans on teacher pensions and education funding, in addition, republicans say they is $400 million in unidentified spending, as well as sweeping cuts to the Transportation Fund and the Care for Kids Program.

The deadline is Thursday, which gives lawmakers only two days to get a budget.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said “I am profoundly disappointed that neither Democrats nor Republicans could produce a budget that makes responsible progress toward addressing our fiscal challenges.  I stand ready to work with leaders of both parties as they come to terms with the real and growing challenges facing Connecticut. For now, the only balanced budget proposal is the one I put on the table in February.  I will continue to share and discuss that plan publicly, listen to new ideas, and work toward a substantial cost-saving agreement with our state employees.  What I will not do is sign a budget focused on taxes rather than spending cuts.  I will not push off this year’s problems onto future generations.  And I will not support a budget filled with gimmicks or unsupported revenue projections. In short, the status quo won’t do.  We cannot be all things to all people. We have to live within our means by making real, fundamental changes to how we budget. Deferring hard decisions only makes them harder.  Let’s get to work.”

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