HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The 2022 legislative session is over as lawmakers gaveled out at midnight. What business was accomplished and who will benefit the most?
It was a short session, only three months, but by all accounts, a lot was accomplished. The question now is will it be enough for the governor to get re-elected or will there be a change in the executive branch?
Democrats say this year’s budget delivers historic tax cuts.
“I think a lot of people appreciate that the state is turning a corner,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.
Republicans say with record surpluses and massive federal relief, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was missed.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly, the Republican Senate Minority Leader, countered, “We proposed a $1.2 billion tax cut. The biggest tax cut in Connecticut history was rejected by the majority.”
The administration touts a $600-million tax break, some temporary, some permanent as a way to invest in Connecticut’s future. The administration says by living within our means the state will have stability.
Secretary Jeff Beckham from the Office of Policy and Management said he had his directive.
“Our marching orders were to hold the line, the governor said that to me more than once,” Beckham said.
Some of the tax breaks will take effect this July. The gas tax holiday and free bus service continue through the end of the year.
If you have children, there’s a temporary child tax credit. If you own a car and live in one of the 75 towns tagged in this budget for a car tax cut, you will see some relief.
Property owners and retirees with 401Ks or pensions will get a break.
“I think it’s going to be transformative for this state,” Lamont added. “The most important thing people want to know is with a little bit of certainty, a little less unpredictability. What’s the state going to look like in a few years.”
But Republicans say the state is flush with cash and more could have been done to help all residents, not just state workers, adding after $6.6 billion in tax increases over the last several years, it’s time for the Democratic dominance to end.
“So it’s going to come to a couple of hundred bucks to the people who actually put their lives in harm’s way for the benefit of the greater good. But yet give $3,500 [bonuses] to people who were staying at home and didn’t interface with many people at all in exchange,” questioned Kelly, referring to the state union contract.
This week’s revised numbers showed the state actually had $1.5 billion in extra wiggle room, but the budget director said he would not have recommended to the governor he makes more tax cuts fearing a future deficit in two years, where that money will be needed.
Republicans say it’s overtaxing plain and simple, and they will remind voters heading into November.
The approved spending is 7% more than last year. Most go to union contracts, mental health care, and child care.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysewicz said COVID-19 was the toughest on women in the job market.
“An unprecedented number of women in our state dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic, and this is going to get them back,” she said.
Some of the winners are unions that will get raises and bonuses, children looking for mental health access, and elected officials who after 20 years get raises.
Losing out were consumers who won’t have direct sales of electric vehicles, groups looking to ban flavored vapes, and advocates who wanted patients to have the right to die.
Despite passing a juvenile justice crime bill, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say there’s more work to be done, and with millions in tax relief, some argue there could have been more.
State Rep. Vin Candelora, the Republican House Minority Leader, said the budget is about re-election. “This is a bumper sticker budget for the Democrats for November,” he said.
Republicans were pushing for an income tax rate cut, but it was rejected by the Democrats.
The bills that passed sit on the governor’s desk. He can either sign them or veto them.