With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Republicans offered an alternative budget Thursday that rejects Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $55 tax rebates and eliminates keno gambling.
The Republican plan would save the state more than $120 million per year by eliminating the state earned income tax credit for the working poor, but that idea was immediately criticized by Democrats.
Republicans said they were offering a gimmick-free alternative to the second year of the two-year budget that restores funding to multiple accounts that include transportation and clean energy.
“This is an honest approach that eliminates the ugly gimmicks and ‘techniques’ that have been employed to balance the budget only on paper,” said House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk. “Absent the gimmicks, the Democratic budget would be $150 million over the spending cap and out of balance.”
Republicans also blasted the statements by the Malloy administration, citing a University of Connecticut economist, that sending the rebate checks back to residents would stimulate the economy so much that it would create 1,200 new jobs.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. “Show me those jobs that are created. … You can’t make this stuff up. Real people in the real world don’t believe that adding that money [from rebates] creates jobs.”
Cafero asked, “If you got another 55 bucks, that’s all of a sudden going to create 1,200 jobs? What world does that happen in?”
But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said that the Republican proposal falls short on several points as “a political document that’s heavy on rhetoric” that was produced “after months of grandstanding” against Malloy’s budget.
“Perhaps most troubling, it includes a $120 million tax increase on Connecticut’s working poor by eliminating the EITC, what Ronald Reagan called ‘the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress,’ ” Barnes said.
Barnes continued, “It also contains $54.8 million in phantom spending cuts that are not detailed anywhere. Finally, it does all this and yet their bottom line spending is less than 0.1 percent different from the Governor’s proposed budget. So much for cutting spending.”
The detailed Republican proposal includes more than 400 line items of cuts and additions in a wide variety of state departments, covering environmental protection, corrections, public safety, education, labor, transportation, motor vehicles, criminal justice, public health, and children and families.
Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator, said, “I didn’t see any bold ideas proposed by the Republicans. … After a big buildup, I think it was a big letdown.” Continue reading