Lamont touts tax cut plan, says budget deal is close
Connecticut’s governor said Tuesday he believes he and the General Assembly are close to reaching a budget deal.
At a press conference at A Dong Supermarket in West Hartford, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont touted the income tax cut plan in his budget proposal. He said his office and lawmakers from both parties have found significant common ground in negotiations.
“Usually we’re talking about ‘how much do we have to raise taxes?’ or ‘how much do we have to cut spending in key areas?’,” Lamont said. “Now we’re having a debate about how much additional investments we make in, say, education, and how big a tax cut we’re going to have. I think we’re pretty close.”
Lamont said he believed a budget would be passed and adopted by the end of the regular legislative session on June 7.
“You know, it’s like football: It’s usually that last five yards on the field to get into the end zone that are sometimes the most complicated. But I think we’re relatively close to where we ought to be. We’re all playing within the same rules,” Lamont said.
The governor was joined by Mark Boughton, commissioner of the state Department of Revenue Services.
“We understand that there’s a process here, a negotiation process that’s going on, but the framework, the bones of what we’re trying to do, of what this budget does, is provide tax relief to working men and women and families across the state,” Boughton said.
The Vietnamese grocery store was chosen as the location for the press conference to highlight the way Lamont’s proposal would benefit small businesses, said West Hartford Town Manager Rick Ledwith.
“Governor Lamont’s tax cut will be felt deeply by couples making $100,000 with over $600 per year in savings,” Ledwith said. “Here in West Hartford, this will allow many families to breathe a sigh of relief under the governor’s proposal.”
Jimmy Tran, general manager at the market, said he supported the governor’s plan.
“It puts money back into the pockets of our customers so they can spend a little more here,” Tran said.
Lamont said 80% of savings under his plan would go to people earning less than $200,000 a year, but those making more would also enjoy tax cuts. He said that tenet of the proposal would likely be a focus of negotiation with the legislature.
The governor also said he did not want to adopt a proposal by House Republicans to make the relief retroactive to the start of this calendar year, preferring instead to wait until January for it to become effective and use those savings to pay down state pension debt.
“Everybody always has a reason why, ‘Let’s not pay down the pension now, let’s do it later.’ Frankly, that’s been the attitude for about 40 years around here,” Lamont said.
If adopted, the income tax cuts would be the first since the 1990s, the Connecticut Mirror reports. In addition to the proposals from Lamont, the House GOP, and Democrats from both chambers, state Senate Republicans are expected to release their own proposal Wednesday.