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Hartford budget games

No one is complaining about the Republican state budget proposal because there isn’t one. That seems to be the point.

Unless something changes, Connecticut Republicans will have failed to propose any alternative state spending and revenue plan for three years in a row: 2019, 2020, and now again in 2021.

Republican leaders aren’t saying why they don’t offer an alternative budget proposal — our inquiries went ignored — but they have had plenty to say about the plans produced by the other side.

They have howled about the budget package passed by the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, with its more than $1 billion in proposed new taxes by 2023, falling almost exclusively on the state’s wealthiest.

And they don’t like the proposed creation of a Connecticut Equitable Investment Fund, which would capture much of the new tax revenue and send it to cities to support various social programs, small-business loans, and job training. Republicans say it is an attempt to get around the constitutional spending cap and have questioned its constitutionality.

Well, Gov. Ned Lamont has said he doesn’t plan on signing a budget with broad-based tax increases or accounting gimmicks, even if proposed by fellow Democrats. We line up with Lamont that since the state has a massive budget reserve, billions of federal dollars flowing in, and an economy to rebuild, broad tax increases are unnecessary and could prove counterproductive.

Perhaps Republican leadership sees it as a fool’s errand, given large Democratic majorities of 24-12 in the Senate, 97-54 in the House. If they produced a budget proposal it would be attacked, while going nowhere.

Interestingly, and somewhat oddly, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), issued a press release recently cajoling their Republican counterparts “to submit a fully vetted, biennial state budget proposal.”

They’re right, of course, voters do deserve to know what Republicans are for and not just what they are against.

However, in the same release demanding to see the Republican proposal, Looney signaled how his party would receive it.

"Almost every time Republicans propose budget ideas, they prove to be dead wrong for the average Connecticut family,” he stated.

In other words, as much as Republicans are politically motivated in not producing a budget, Democrats are politically motivated in wishing they would, so they too would have something to complain about.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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