The taxable income of Connecticut’s wealthiest residents has gone down by nearly half, creating more red ink for state government as far as the eye can see. Now, the bickering has begun over the best way to negotiate out of the mess.
The Governor has agreed to meet with the top leaders from both political parties Tuesday in what is expected to be a series of budget summit meetings to try to find a solution to the worst budget crisis in over 25 years. Senator Martin Looney (D-New Haven) the leader of the Senate Democrats saying today, “We propose that we hold all of our budget and implementer negotiations in the presence of the news media, and to be broadcast on CTN.” CTN is the legislature’s gavel to gavel statewide cable TV channel.
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Democrats in the State Senate know that the spending cuts that are coming this time will be wildly unpopular, and they want the blame spread around. “We are in the middle of a dire circumstance. We have real decisions to make and the real decisions have to be made together,” said Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague), who is co-chair of the Appropriations Committee.
The Republican leader in the Senate, Len Fasano of North Haven, who has equal status with Democratic leader Martin Looney of New Haven because of the 18-to-18 split, immediately called the open meeting idea just a political tactic that won’t solve anything.
You have negotiations. You don’t invite the whole world into negotiations. It chills the affect of the conversation. Everybody knows that. That’s why it’s a game.” Adding, “This is just nuts.”
Meanwhile, they’re still opening envelopes at the state tax department, and it appears the state’s 100 wealthiest residents had an over forty-percent decline in taxable income last year; putting the current state budget, that ends in 60 days, $400 million in the red. Next year, the state may be well over $2 billion in the red.
The state tax commissioner, Kevin Sullivan of the Department of Revenue Services, says no one should be surprised, “It’s been developing for months now if you follow the numbers. The numbers have been very clear that revenue’s been tracking rapidly downward.”
You may be asking yourself how can the state’s most wealthy residents be paying so much less when the stock market is sky high? Remember before it was high, it was low; and the wealthy can legally avoid paying some taxes by measuring their losses against their gains. Republicans also say many of the state’s wealthiest residents have left the state for Florida.