Keith Phaneuf, CT Mirror.org’s Budget Reporter, discusses Governor Malloy’s announcement that he will not run for a third term.
According to Phanuef, the timing of Malloy’s announcement is what’s most significant.
“The Governor could have waited until after the regular legislative session,” he says. “He wouldn’t be breaking any tradition…many of his predecessors waited until later on before they decided they weren’t going to run.
“As you know his poll numbers aren’t that great,” says Dunaway, “and he’s at least made an attempt to deal with some of the fundamental problems the state has been facing for decades. Does this (early announcement) give him the ability to do things, that were he looking for re-election, he might not do?”
“In theory, yes,” says Phaneuf, “but in practical terms it doesn’t move the needle one way or another. It doesn’t change the fact that his approval rating is very low, (in the 20% range), and that he’s always said he doesn’t really care that his approval rating is so low. He certainly hasn’t shied away from controversial position. The numbers are the numbers. You’re still looking at a big deficit and big problems. People were more surprised about the timing of his announcement and not the choice he made.”
Dunaway makes the point that the state employee unions are an incredible political force in Connecticut. “I just wonder if that would give him more leeway to make them unhappy, knowing he’s not going to need them in two years,” he says.
“But how many choices do you have when you have such a deficit,” asks Phaneuf. “It’s not like there was some option that wasn’t going to be ugly…and that can affect if someone is going to run, because there’s no way to run this budget without ticking off a lot of constituents.”
“We’re still looking at about an 8% deficit in the next budget,” explains Phaneuf. “We’re looking at tax increases that may include income tax, because historically you don’t close a gap that big without an income tax increase.”
Dunaway lists the tax increases that are on the table and look like a go, including the soda tax and tolls. He also asks if federal regulations would box in tolls so they’re only destination would be toward infrastructure and improvement.
“It’s not that simple,” says Phaneuf, “it depends on the type of tolls – and don’t hold your breath…there’s a difference between saying tolls are inevitable, and saying they’re inevitable for this session.”
Phaneuf says he’d be “surprised” to see tolls adopted this year because of the need for other revenue increases in order to pay the pension bills.
With a pause and a big sigh, Dunaway then says, “I imagine Ted Kennedy’s nickel bag deposit thing will probably pass because we need the money.”
“Deposits you can see moving forward,” says Phaneuf. “I also wouldn’t put the soda tax in the lay-up category.”
According to Phaneuf, the current trend for tax revenue is to look at what tax payers are more likely not to notice, “and the sugar tax is not low profile.”
With that, Phaneuf adds, “and we’re running out of choices that are low profile.”