HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont and his Democratic team touted the state’s rosy budget numbers. His Republican challenger sees it differently, and there is a bit of a blame game over Lamont’s car tax relief.

The governor said people should have a great deal of confidence that his team has given them stability. His Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, said Lamont is ignoring the pain being felt at the kitchen table, including that car tax relief that isn’t quite materializing.

“Usually, in this building, we design budgets to get through the next election,” Lamont said.

But the first-term Democrat said his administration is thinking long-term.

While bracing for a recession, he joined his team, taking a victory lap over how they’ve managed and dismissing Republicans’ calls to use a massive rainy day fund to cut taxes.

“The rainy day fund is there in the face of a recession to make darn sure I don’t have to raise anybody’s taxes or slash spending,” Lamont said.

Sky-high debt did not happen overnight and it will not be paid off anytime soon.

Stefanowski said he would run the office differently.

“With that kind of surplus in Hartford and the rainy day the residents of Connecticut are feeling right now, this is a massive opportunity to give people some relief,” Stefanowski said.

Stefanowski is focused on exposing the Governor for not helping residents more. The Republican challenger said the diesel tax increase is an example.

“That cost will filter down from the trucking companies, down to more expensive food which is also taxed by 1% and it’s inflationary,” Stefanowski said.

State budget surpluses are about $1 billion. The rainy day fund sits at an estimated $4 billion — the highest ever.

Lamont said $600 million in tax cuts, including a child tax credit and a lower car tax in some towns, is relief, blaming mayors and first selectmen for not lowering taxes more after the state and the federal governments sent them millions.

Secretary Jeff Beckham from the state Office of Policy and Management quickly responded to reporters.

“They [municipal leaders] have quite a bit of resources right now. Could’ve used some of that to defray these hikes,” Beckham said.

“If your used car doubled in value and all we did was give you a 20% savings, I’m afraid it [tax bill] went up,” Lamont said.

Stefanowski said passing the blame on mayors is not leadership.

“He [Lamont] came up with the formulas and if it didn’t work, he should be held accountable, he should stand up and say ‘I made a mistake,’” Stefanowski said.

In the meantime, the State Comptroller said extra payments to long-term pension debt will save taxpayers more than $11 billion overall through 2048.

Republican Senate Minority leaders, State Senators Kevin Kelly and Paul Formica, told News 8: “The Governor’s celebrations from under the Capitol dome are completely out of touch with reality for Connecticut’s working- and middle-class families. The governor is celebrating the government being awash with cash meanwhile family budgets are broken. Not only are Connecticut Democrats refusing to deliver relief now, they are actually asking people to pay more taxes to a government that is flush with cash.”

As for all that money the state got from Washington, D.C. during the pandemic, it expires next year. Despite that state, financial experts say the next governor and legislature will still be able to manage.