Senate Approves State Budget
The state Senate bucked a national trend of forgoing tax increases early Tuesday and instead passed a two-year, $40.1 billion budget that attempts to tackle the state’s deficit with a combination of cuts, labor savings and wide-ranging tax hikes.
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the deal reached between legislative leadership and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with a 19-17 vote around 3:10 a.m., nearly 11 hours after debate on the bill had begun.
After voting as a group against a steady stream of amendments from the minority Republicans, three Democrats _ Sens. Ed Meyer of Guilford, Gayle Slossberg of Milford and Joan Hartley of Waterbury _ broke ranks and joined the GOP in opposing the package.
The House of Representatives, also controlled by Democrats, is scheduled to take up the same budget bill later today.
Republican lawmakers warned the cornucopia of increased taxes _ about $1.4 billion in the first year and $1.2 billion in the second year _ on everything from personal and corporate income to diesel fuel, yoga studios, alcohol and pedicures hurts specific industries and everyday taxpayers still struggling from the recession.
“Hold on to your hat. We’re going to tax you from head to toe and everything in between,” warned Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, the ranking Republican senator on the tax committee. “It’s the middle class that is taking it the hardest with the budget.”
The marathon Senate debate marked one of the earliest state budget votes in recent memory. Malloy, the state’s first Democratic governor in two decades, has been pushing the General Assembly for a vote in early May, even though his administration has yet to reach an agreement with the state employee unions over $2 billion in labor savings over two years.
The budget proposal assumes the $2 billion in labor savings will be accomplished. If not, the governor has until May 31 to submit to lawmakers a plan on how he intends to fill the gap.