HARTFORD, and OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Connecticut Income Tax following the most monumental political battle of the modern era.
The Income Tax was signed into law on August 22nd, 1991 by then Independent Governor Lowell Weicker. Many people have been complaining about it ever since.
25 years ago, the state was in serious financial difficulty much like right now. Gov. Weicker cut spending to the same kind of loud complaints we hear today, but he also did something no other Governor had successfully done before.
25 years ago this October, the largest protest rally in state history brought more than 50,000 angry Connecticut residents to the State Capitol. They were protesting what had occurred 25 years ago this week. The man responsible for all the anger also showed up to the loudest chorus of boos ever heard at the Capitol.
After campaigning against an Income Tax, Weicker had signed one into law after a marathon summer-long Special Session of the Legislature.
He did it with Republican and Democratic votes in both the State Senate and the House by a brilliant compromise. Lower income residents would not pay the tax and the eight percent Sales Tax would be cut to six. The wealthy got a huge tax cut by the elimination of the Dividends and Interest Tax, that was then as high as 11 percent.
It was signed into law by Weicker in a ceremony on August 22, 1991. The tax started coming out of payroll checks in October and has never stopped.
“After I became Governor and we enacted the Income Tax, the state was in the black,” said Weicker in an interview from his Old Lyme home. He says the balanced books he left behind have all been squandered, “All of those who cursed me, including…the Representatives, John Rowland, everybody went ahead and spent all the money.”
And Weicker blames the current legislative leadership for extending the spending spree, resulting in the current financial difficulties saying, “When Dan Malloy became Governor, they kept on spending and then they were right back in the red, which is where we were back in 1990.”
So does that mean that Gov. Malloy, who has approved two adjustments to the Income Tax to balance the books, is part of the problem?
“I don’t very much blame Dan Malloy, not at all,” says the former Governor and U.S. Senator, “I think the legislature, it’s leadership and the people of Connecticut can shoulder a great deal of the blame.”
Here’s what Gov. Malloy says about the Income Tax on this anniversary, “We would not be able to support the level of services, particularly in the area of things like transportation, without an adequate tax system.”
Men clothed in colonial garb fired muskets at that big anti-income tax rally back in 1991. You might say that modern Tea Party activism began here in Connecticut 25 years ago this summer, but the public that has the taste for expanding government spending always seems to have more votes.
Weicker voluntarily left office in 1994, many said he could never be re-elected.
Republican John Rowland ran and won on a promise to repeal the Income Tax. Despite spending a decade in office, he never did.