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|House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, left, and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter keeping sales tax increase on the table.|
Sales Tax Hike Remains In Play As CT Budget Talks Drag On
Hartford: As legislators struggle to find enough spending cuts to offset a major projected deficit, House Democrats continue to talk about increasing one of the state’s two major taxes — the sales levy.
But while House Democratic leaders acknowledged Thursday that hiking the sales tax rate to 6.99 percent was discussed in a closed-door meeting of caucus members, they also said this would only be considered to mitigate deep and painful cuts proposed for municipal aid.
By Mitchell Young
Former Democratic Governor Ella Grasso famously made a home cooked meal for Miles Laboratories, [Bayer Pharmaceuticals] executives to woo them to West Haven.
Times and the people of Connecticut have changed.
Bayer would eventually leave, and a $60 million incentive package proposal by the Rell Administration was not enough to change their consolidation plans after a merger.
Trump Picks Lieberman Associate Kasowitz As Personal Lawyer In Russia Probe
Washington – President Donald Trump’s decision to hire attorney Marc Kasowitz to serve as his private lawyer during federal and congressional Russia probes has dimmed former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s chances of becoming the next FBI chief.
Kasowitz, a New York attorney who has represented Trump in legal matters before, is the senior partner in the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm that hired Lieberman after he retired from the Senate in 2013. Fox Business and ABC were the first to report Kasowitz’s hiring on Tuesday afternoon.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senate Democrats, who are opposed to having Lieberman replace ousted FBI director James Comey, had already grumbled about the connection between Lieberman, Kasowitz and Trump.
Kasowitz’s representation of Trump during the Russia probe would be likely to pose a conflict of interest if Lieberman were head of the FBI.
Trump last week said Lieberman was a front-runner for the FBI job. But that was before Senate Democrats made clear they would oppose the nomination, which has also been rejected by American civil liberties groups.
Trump’s comments about Lieberman also were made before his decision to hire an outside counsel.
News that Kasowitz was chosen to represent the president during investigations into links between Moscow and Trump associates by special counsel Robert Mueller and four congressional committees came after former CIA Director John Brennan testified about those links Tuesday.
Brennan said he became concerned last year that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act, perhaps unwittingly, on Moscow’s behalf.
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan told members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Democrats would slash municipal aid, allow casino, legalize pot
Hartford: House and Senate Democrats Tuesday recommended opening a new casino, legalizing marijuana and imposing deep cuts to municipal aid and public colleges and universities to balance the next two-year state budget.
And while their plan begins the process of establishing tolls in future years, it strips transportation reserves in the short term while selling 35 acres in Hartford along the elevated Interstate 84 highway to keep the state’s transportation program afloat.
The Democratic plan consolidates several departments, retains but reduces the public financing program for state elections and closes an unnamed prison, the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Southbury Training School.
Another question of public access arose Monday in the struggle to balance the next state budget.
While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and three of the four legislative caucuses either have released — or have agreed to release — their latest proposed budget adjustments to the public, the Senate Republican caucus took a different approach this week.
Nicole Rall, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven, said the caucus intends — at least initially — to share its plans to close a major shortfall in the next budget only with Malloy’s office and with leadership from the other caucuses.
“At this time it is not the plan to share it publicly at the same time it is shared with the Democrats and the governor,” Rall said.
The governor released to the public Monday a detailed series of revisions to his budget proposal for the next two fiscal years. Analysts warned on May 1 that General Fund revenues, largely because of eroding income tax receipts, probably will produce about $1.5 billion less in revenue during the coming biennium than originally projected.
Spokespeople for the House and Senate Democrats and for the House GOP also said Monday they would release details of their own budget adjustments to the public at the same time they are shared with each other and the governor.
Fasano’s position on this issue of public disclosure could complicate Republicans’ efforts to present a unified position on closing the projected deficit.
Senate and House Republicans released a joint plan to the public on April 27 — before the latest revenue erosion left all budget proposals way out of balance.
Sources said Senate and House Republicans still were working jointly Monday to develop a joint, revised proposal with the goal of completing it Tuesday. But they also said that House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, still intends to make any proposals her caucus supports available for public review.
House and Senate Democratic leaders have said they intend to release a joint plan Tuesday to compensate for the revenue erosion.
This isn’t the first issue of transparency to complicate the latest budget debate.
Senate Democrats recommended earlier this month that all budget negotiations be open to the public and televised on The Connecticut Network channel.
House Democratic and Republican leaders said they would accept that, but Malloy and Fasano both argued it would lead more to political posturing than to effective negotiations.
Leaders say they are continuing to discuss the idea but, absent a consensus on that proposal, they will continue to meet privately.
New Haven Magazine