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Barnes: Tax Rebate Will Create 1,000 Jobs

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State Budget Director Ben Barnes (Courtesy CT-N)

State Budget Director Ben Barnes (Courtesy CT-N)

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By SUSAN HAIGH,  Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed tax rebate program was pitched Thursday as way to provide modest relief to Connecticut taxpayers while quickly injecting revenue into the state’s economy, generating approximately 1,000 jobs.

Malloy’s budget secretary, Benjamin Barnes, told members of the General Assembly’s Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, the administration raised taxes in 2011 to help cover a large deficit. Since then, he said the economy has improved, though slower than expected, and the state now has the ability to send out rebate checks.

“The governor believes that it’s important we try to find a way to return some of those revenues to taxpayers,” Barnes said, adding how it would be a “difficult gamble” to instead cut tax rates because the state’s future economy is uncertain.

“We are a long way from where we would like to be, but we see growth in our state sales and income taxes,” he said.

Barnes said he expects most recipients will likely spend the money on goods and services in Connecticut relatively quickly, creating a “high multiplier effect.” The University of Connecticut has estimated the spending would ultimately generate about 1,000 jobs. He said it’s difficult to determine where those jobs would occur.

Under Malloy’s plan, $155 million of this year’s projected budget surplus of more than $500 million would be set aside for the rebate, which would be mailed out in September. The rebates would be $55 for individuals earning less than $200,000 and $110 to joint filers earning less than $400,000. It’s estimated it will cost the state about $1.72 million to issue the rebate checks.

It’s unclear whether the General Assembly will ultimately include Malloy’s rebate proposal in the final version of the state budget, to be hammered out between now and session adjournment on May 7.

Rep. Christopher Davis, R-East Windsor, asked Barnes whether the administration considered other ways to stimulate the economy. Republican lawmakers, the minority party in the legislature, have suggested the money would be better off spent reducing state debt or saved in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

“We believe the most efficacious way to stimulate the economy is with direct payments to people who need money,” Barnes said, adding how the administration is targeting low- and middle-income families to receive the rebates.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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