Top Conn. Republican: ‘Democrats Showing They Want Tax Increases’

Connecticut’s state Senate Minority Leader says Democrats’ unwillingness to tackle a massive budget shortfall now shows they want tax increases. Sounding frustrated at the lack of action, Sen. Len Fasano says lawmakers should be talking right now about how to right the state’s fiscal ship that has a $1.3 billion hole in it.

“Why are we not getting together now to figure out how to trim our sails?” Fasano asked in an interview with The Hanging Shad. “[Democrats] don’t want to do anything because they want taxes. Their silence helps them. They’ll say, ‘There’s nothing else we can do.’ It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Senate Minority Len Fasano (l) and Senate President Martin Looney.

Senate Minority Len Fasano (l) and Senate President Martin Looney.

Gov. Dannel Malloy will not rule out tax increases or more layoffs of state workers.

With the crucial task of passing a new two-year start budget on the horizon, the top legislative Democrat says with the new 18-18 split in the state Senate, Republicans will, by necessity, have a larger role in the process. Republicans achieved the rare split with some key victories in last week’s election.

State Senate President Marty Looney says Republicans were always welcome in the budget process for meaningful input in the past. “They always wanted to appear to be involved but then they would bail as part of a strategy for the electoral process,” Looney said. “But now, by necessity, they will have a bigger role.”

Looney says things will necessarily be different this time around as the General Assembly and Gov. Dannel Malloy grapple with a looming $500 million budget deficit (although the amount is a fluid number for sure as revenues continue to erode).

Senate Democrats will also have the tough job of keeping their 18 members together. Democratic state Senators Joan Hartley and Paul Doyle have been known to side with the Republicans on fiscal matters. Looney says that won’t be a problem. “We are no doubt operating on a tightrope but I am confident our members will hold together as a caucus and invite Republicans to be part of the process,” he said.

With less than two months to go before the start of the 2017 legislative session, there seems to already be an animus between the two sides of the aisle.