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Large middle-class tax cut may have fostered cooperative vibe among CT lawmakers this budget cycle

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont gets a standing ovation from members of both parties of the Connecticut state legislature during his 2023 “State of the State” address after declaring “the era of Connecticut’s permanent fiscal crisis is over.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont gets a standing ovation from members of both parties of the Connecticut state legislature during his 2023 “State of the State” address after declaring “the era of Connecticut’s permanent fiscal crisis is over.”

Connecticut's new biennial budget passed through both chambers of the Democratic-controlled General Assembly this week with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Connecticut Mirror's Mark Pazniokas said only 13 Republican members voted against the budget, which speaks to the unique level of cooperation in the Connecticut legislature.

“I think everybody loves the contrast here in Connecticut with what people are seeing not only in Washington, but in state capitals across the country," Pazniokas said. "Things are incredibly polarized and ugly."

"In Connecticut, it has been a very cooperative vibe, even in debates where there's controversy,” he said.

Pazniokas said the new budget contains a personal income tax cut that was key to fostering this sense of cooperation among lawmakers.

“Nobody really wants to be running for reelection in two years and have to explain why they voted against a middle class tax cut,” Pazniokas said.

While Pazniokas said Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is pleased to save the individual middle class taxpayer an average of $500 to $600 off their state income tax bills, the optics of this move should yield benefits for everyone in the state.

“The governor got a very laudatory editorial in the Wall Street Journal,” Pazniokas said. “(Lamont) thinks it is certainly to the state’s benefit to have those readers think Connecticut is on its game, controlling costs and cutting taxes.”

But not everyone is entirely happy with the new budget agreement. Pazniokas mentioned nonprofit service providers, groups involved in municipal waste disposal, organized labor, and some workers in higher education.

“Student enrollment in some of these universities and campuses are going down,” Pazniokas said. “The enrollment in the community colleges is down. So you may see another budget fight next year because even though it's a two-year budget, they do adjustments in the second year. And some years, that is really a full-fledged budget fight.”

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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