Lamont; state government going on a 'debt diet'

(WTNH) - Governor Ned Lamont said he's going to put state government on a borrowing diet in his new state budget

He's been on the job for about a full month and will announce his first state budget on Wednesday, Feb. 20th.

He said the first major move is to cut the state's borrowing by $500 million.

Calling recent years a "borrowing binge," the new governor told business leaders on Tuesday that his new state budget will put the state on a "debt diet" by cutting almost 40 percent of state borrowing.

He also made this prediction; "There will be some screaming and we don't have a choice. We cannot keep paying those accelerating fixed costs," he said.

Besides local pet projects, the bulk of state borrowing goes to large grants to build local schools.

The governor said on Tuesday that, in the future, those grants will be linked to regionalization.

He added, "We're going to make sure that we continue to do schools, but we're going to be selective. We're going to do schools that have a certain number of students in there."

Related Content: Lamont looks to reduce traffic at DMV with renewal proposals

He confirmed that he wants to expand the state sales tax and he gave digital downloads as an example. He noted that if you purchase a DVD in a store, you pay the state sales tax, but if you download the same movie, you don't.

In another example, the governor said, "If you go to a movie theater and you're paying a 6.35 percent tax when you ticket there, movie theaters are losing business to Netflix where there's no sales tax. So, it's that type of thing that I'm thinking about."

He said he can't make online license renewals happen immediately, so he wants to expand the period for license renewals from the current six to eight years, and registrations from the current two to three years. And the fee would stay the same.

He added, "Reduce the lines in a dramatic way and make, in the near term, a difference for people, and that's my priority."

And the new governor wants to make Election Day a state holiday to give more people the opportunity to vote.

He said this can be done at no cost by swapping an existing holiday like Feb. 12th, Lincoln's birthday, which is currently a state holiday.

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