Governor Dannel Malloy unveiled his budget with the hopes that sharing the load will relieve the state’s deficit
Shared sacrifice was the motto of Governor Dannel Malloy’s first budget proposal Wednesday.
The two largest aspects of his budget were the $ 1.5 billion worth of income tax increases over the next year and the $2 billion worth of union and salary concessions from state workers over the next two years. Combined, Malloy expects to patch up the State’s over $3 billion dollar deficit by 2013.
Malloy referred to the tax hikes as the only way to “ensure that no one group of people bears a much higher burden” in closing the budget gap. Malloy also asked state employees to do more, calling their “current wage, health care, and pension benefit levels” unsustainable.
Malloy realized his spending plan may be a tough road for all, but said most people from Connecticut will understand what needs to be done: “I believe they are willing to make sacrifices, if they understand why they’re being asked to do so, and if they believe that Connecticut is serious about fixing what’s broken.” Malloy added, “despite the challenges we face, I sense a renewed optimism in the air. I sense that people believe change has arrived. I sense that people are waiting to be led to a better tomorrow.”
On the other hand, Republicans were not as optimistic. While they applauded the Governor for keeping school and public safety funding in place, they chastised him for the tax hikes. Senator Toni Boucher from Connecticut’s 26th district was surprised by the extent of the increases, “we’re two-thirds weighted on taxes, and I think the public was expecting the opposite.” Boucher also had her doubts on the Governor’s ability to force $2 billion worth of concessions from unions.
Chris Healy, Chairman of the Connecticut Republicans, says state union leaders will be unwilling to give the governor what he wants without the threat of forced layoffs. Healy says if the unions do refuse Malloy’s proposal it will hurt all of Connecticut, “the tax payers are the clients of these state employees and they’re saying ‘look we need to go a different way here if we’re going to have a state that is able to provide a decent quality of life for the people here.’”
A spokesman from the CSEA SEIU Local 2001, which represents 13 state employees union in Connecticut, says talks between them and the state are taking place. The spokesman says cost saving measures are being considered, which may not actually mean concessions from state employees.
Governor Malloy is prepared to answer questions from the people. Starting next week he’ll hold the first of 17 town-hall style meetings across the state meant to persuade his constituents of his budget’s strong points.