After vowing to hold the line on taxes for months, Governor Jodi Rell’s released her latest budget proposal this afternoon which includes $391 million in tax increases.
Rell described her proposal this way:
“I am showing the leadership we need to get us to the finish line,” Governor Rell said. “In that vein, I have invited the legislative leaders to join me in compromise – and to join me in negotiations starting Tuesday. I hope we will be able to reach an agreement soon and bring a budget to a vote.” (Gov. Rell Press Release)
In what was a big sigh of relief to Rell supporters, her budget features no new income tax hikes.
Her budget package includes a $1/pack hike on cigarettes, which would make Connecticut’s cigarette tax an even $3/pack. Last year’s $0.62 increase was just implemented in April 2009, and the new proposal would make Connecticut’s cigarette tax the highest in the nation, surpassing New Jersey’s per pack tax of $2.67. With the new tax rate, more than 50% of a pack’s price will be taxes.
The new proposal also raises the Alcoholic Beverages Tax by 10%.
It’s clear that Grandma Governor is no fun.
While there is no doubt this pitch is far more palatable than income tax hikes, it is true that the Governor has simply opted for a different set of winners and losers. Balancing the budget on cigarettes and booze avoids the harder budget questions, like pension reform or state employee benefits.
Until the State addresses those questions, we will never get the type of reform that is necessary in state government.