Lawmakers envision a rise in taxes to cover budget gap - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers envision a rise in taxes to cover budget gap

Posted: Updated:
The governor will be meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state budget. (WFSB file photo) The governor will be meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state budget. (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

After an unexpected state budget gap of nearly $400 million was revealed on Monday, lawmakers said they may have to raise taxes.

The gap widened after tax revenues turned out to be lower than expected.

Lawmakers were having a hard time with the budget even before that data was released.

Now, to climb out of an even deeper $393.4 million hole, some are warning about a tax hike.

The number rose on Tuesday from $389 million after Comptroller Kevin Lembo said the income tax numbers continue to erode.

"I will not take anything off the table," said Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat representing the 30th District. "We have to enter this negotiation with all options on the table."

However, both Aresimowicz and 1st District Rep. Matt Ritter admitted that raising taxes may not work.

"In difficult times, it can be fair to ask people with means to pay more, but it's also fair to sit back and say in 2017, those raises have not generated the revenue that people expected them to," Ritter said. "It's hard to ignore that reality."

Republicans are wary.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides doesn't believe it will work.

"If you could show me how the two highest tax increases in our history in the past six years have helped the state get on stronger footing and moved the state forward, I'd be open to the conversation," she said.

What's different this time is that nothing is set in stone.  There are no firm numbers being released.

Democrats said if taxes are increased, they need to go to specific departments.

"It needs to go where we say it's going to go," Aresimowicz said. "If it's tolls, it has to go to transportation. If it's sales, it needs to go to municipalities."

Lawmakers said what got the state into this mess was the fact that the taxes paid by the top 100 taxpayers dropped 45 percent this year.

Republicans said it's because high taxes drove those people out.

When speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy also suggested that taxes should not be the only solution.

"This cannot be a revenue driven discussion," he said. "I acknowledged many times that revenue may be part of it, but it's not a revenue driven decision. We need to get our economic houses in order."

Lawmakers have until the end of June to balance a $20 billion budget.

A joint closed-door meeting got underway on Tuesday and was expected to wrap up by late afternoon.

Stay with Eyewitness News for updates on its progress.

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.