By SUSAN HAIGH
STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) _ State Sen. John McKinney, one of two Republican candidates for Connecticut governor, on Thursday called for eliminating state income taxes on those who make less than $75,000, saying middle-income earners have been hurt the most by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s policies.
McKinney, the Senate minority leader, unveiled the plan to eliminate the tax on lower-income earners, beginning in fiscal year 2017.
Currently, the first $12,050 of income is not subject to Connecticut’s income tax. After that, the tax applies differently in six different brackets depending on a person’s adjusted gross income.
McKinney also criticized Malloy, who is seeking re-election, for agreeing in 2011 to raise taxes by $2.6 billion over two years to help cover a projected $3.3 billion budget deficit he inherited.
“That path Governor Malloy chose gave us the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Connecticut, a tax increase that hit the middle class harder than anyone has hit them before in the history of the state,” said McKinney, who appeared outside a Stratford coffee shop with his running mate, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker.
McKinney said their proposal also addresses a projected $1.4 billion state budget deficit by reducing spending in the fiscal year 2016 budget by the same amount. He contends it’s a more far-reaching and detailed plan than that of his Aug. 12 Republican primary opponent, Tom Foley, the GOP’s-endorsed candidate. McKinney said that in real dollars, his plan “exceeds the vague promises of Ambassador Foley.”
Foley, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, maintains his proposal to cut the 6.35 percent sales tax by half a percent would affect more taxpayers.
“That (McKinney’s plan) leaves a whole lot of people out whose taxes have been raised under Governor Malloy,” Foley said. “The sales tax affects everybody in Connecticut. You can’t be more broad-based than that.”
Malloy has pledged not to raise taxes any further. Despite projected budget deficits, Malloy argues that changes made to improve the state’s fiscal situation will lead to more robust economic growth. He predicted in May that he would eventually cut taxes.
State Democratic Party spokesman Devon Puglia said McKinney’s plan would take the state backward.
“Providing tax relief to hard-working, Connecticut families is important, but not at the expense of our schools, our roads and infrastructure, and elimination of other vital services,” Puglia said in a statement. “John McKinney has proposed slashing the Earned Income Tax Credit for low income residents, rental rebates for seniors, gutting money for schools, pulling the plug on health care, and laying off droves of employees. Under his latest plan, the cuts would be even deeper.”
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