Following the most recent meeting of top legislative leaders, House Democrats revealed that they still intend to raise the state sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.85 percent.
That proposal is lower than their initial plan to raise the sales tax to 6.99 percent.
Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz still describes the increase in the sales tax as a point for negotiation.
Republican Leader Themis Klarides said her position remains firm that she and her caucus do not support tax increases to balance the two-year budget, which has a projected $3.5 billion shortfall.
“Tax increases are not something that we’re interested in," Rep. Klarides, (R - Derby), said.
Aresimowicz has kept his tone positive throughout budget negotiations.
He has insisted since the fiscal year ended that the people of Connecticut want to see a bipartisan budget solution.
He said Tuesday that after the governor unveiled statewide cuts to education last Friday, he felt the need to adopt a budget as soon as possible.
“What we all heard from our constituents on Friday as far as the executive order is just absolutely unacceptable to us so we are going to do everything we can to avoid those things from October 1st," Rep. Aresimowicz, (D-Berlin) said.
Senate Democratic Leader Martin Looney described the support in the Senate for a sales tax increase as "broad based," but not "unanimous."
Gov. Dannel Malloy said he does not support an increase in the state sales tax, but would not commit to a veto of a budget that included it
The governor maintains that municipal aid cuts in some form have to be a major part of the budget solution.
He said that without those cuts other programs for the poor and disabled would have to suffer. He also said that since the state government has shrunk in the time he's been governor, he has not seen the same of local government.
“The state’s workforce on the executive side is 12.2 percent smaller than it was on the day I was sworn in. No one stepped forward and said that their government on any local level is 12.2 percent smaller today than it was in January of ‘11. Nobody,” he said.
Finally, Republicans indicated that their next budget proposals from House and Senate caucuses would include the savings gained in the labor deal that was ratified by the General Assembly last month.
Sen. Len Fasano (R - North Haven) said, "the ship has sailed," on the argument for changes to collective bargaining through state law since there is a four-year period where wide-scale layoffs are prohibited.
“To ignore it exists and say we’re not going to get involved in a budget because we don’t like that this was passed, we don’t think is fair to the state of Connecticut.” Fasano said.
House Democrats said the latest version of their budget could be available Wednesday.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com