New budget plan boosts sales tax to 6.85%

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) —  Twenty-six years ago on Tuesday, Governor Lowell Weicker signed a budget solution that included, for the first time, a state income tax. That deal on August 22,1991, reduced the state sales tax, but many said it would eventually go back up. Twenty-six years later, that appears to be part of this year’s budget solution.

The 6.85 percent appears to be the new figure for boosting the state sales tax in the state budget plan being pushed by Democrats in the Assembly.  It is currently at 6.35 percent.  It’s a key part of a deal that is expected to be released soon as lawmakers head toward a state budget stalemate solution in mid September.

Following the first face to face budget meeting this month that included the leaders of both political parties, there was consensus on one thing.

“What we all heard from our constituents on Friday, as far as the Executive Order, is absolutely unacceptable to us,” said Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) the Speaker of the House.  The Speaker is referring to the Governor’s school funding formula that takes state education funding away from 139 “well-off” communities in order to help out cities like New Haven and Hartford.

And Democrats appear to be solidifying around boosting the sales tax to 6.85 percent and including the up to one percent local optional restaurant tax in order to help the cities.

Aresimowicz added,  “The majority of our tax increases allow us to keep the towns as harmless as we can. There are some municipal cuts that will come out in our budget.”

The Democrats admitted that the delay in passing a budget is forcing them to consider raising taxes even more than would have been necessary if they had passed a budget on time.

“The 6.85 [percent] would be necessary at this point to bring in the same amount of revenue that 6.75 [percent] would have brought in if it had been enacted July 1st,” said Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven) the Senate President Pro tem.

Although Democratic leaders say they want a bipartisan budget to pass, it continues to appear that the final version may have to pass with just Democratic votes.

Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) the House Minority Leader said, “We keep coming to the table and nothing actually happens but I believe we are doing the best for the State of Connecticut when we are all sitting there and trying to find things we agree on.”

A statement from the Governor’s office says they are anxious to review the latest plan.

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