Gov. Dan Malloy explained his $40 billion biennial budget at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven Wednesday night. I was there.
He told the 150 people who came to listen and ask questions that he is looking for $2 billion in concessions from 45,000 state workers. He wants to cut state agencies by $760 million and increase taxes by $1.5 billion.
"Unlike neighboring governors, I am not trying to balance this budget on the backs of labor," Gov. Malloy said. "I understand you are disappointed in me, but I am disappointed in my predecessors. I was hired to straighten this thing out and to do that I need your help.”
He said if he cut more from towns and cities everyone’s property taxes would have to go up. In East Haven, we get $20 million to run our schools. Imagine if he cut that? We would see a 10 mill increase for our Board of Education. Nobody likes a tax increase, but the governor's plan spreads the increase across the state. In my opinion, his ideas are as fair as they can be.
There were people who said he should tax the rich more. But he defended his income tax changes which add five brackets, topping out at 6.7 percent.
"The top earners have had a 36-percent increase in less than two years, plus all the bracket changes," he said. "To stand there and to deny that this is a substantially progressive form of taxation is simply unfair, and it ignores the reality."
Even though taxes will go up, the governor said “many" would benefit from refunds under his proposed state-earned income tax credit.
Malloy is the first Democratic governor in 20 years and what he has been doing -- going around the state addressing his budget ideas -- is a tough thing to do. It has made him unpopular and he knows it. But I feel his plans will get the state of Connecticut back on the right track. He understands the problems and is not afraid to face them.
“Connecticut’s 9-percent unemployment rate, for the first time, is higher than the national average, and in addition to its deficit, the state has not added one net job in more than 20 years," said Malloy.
I know this is a hard pill to swallow, everyone will share the pain. But I also feel his plan will work and everyone will enjoy a prosperous Connecticut once again.
I'm proud of Gov. Malloy’s courage to face the situation he was handed. He knew going in, this was not going to be easy.
“We may not get to an agreement, in which case you’ll do what you have to do and I’ll do what I have to do, which is to balance this budget,” he said in answer to a question.
I, for one, applaud the governor and hope his budget gets the support from both sides of the aisle, for the sake of this once great state and all the hard working people who call it home.