In just five months on the job, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has dramatically overhauled the state budget, approving the largest tax hikes in state history, slashing spending and wresting another $1.6 billion in concessions from state workers to address what he sees as a chronic imbalance in the state's books.
But the $40 billion, two-year budget that Malloy signed into law earlier this month also contains a less-publicized $1 billion surplus, The Connecticut Post points out
, leading to a fresh debate over whether the state should be raising taxes and cutting spending so aggressively.
Republicans in the General Assembly believe the surplus -
which is expected as the economy improves over the next two years -
is reason to scale back some of the legislature's tax increases , which amount to $1.4 billion in the first year and $1.2 billion in the second. Among other things, lawmakers raised taxes on sales, income, cigarettes and alcohol. "
I would want to see some of the most hurtful tax increases be repealed, "
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney tells the Post
But an adviser to Malloy believes the built-in surplus is necessary to accomplish the governor's goal of balancing a budget without gimmicks, including his administration's plan to shift to new, more transparent accounting principles. Passing the budget with a surplus included, Roy Occhiogrosso tells the Post
sends an incredibly strong message to the business community and Wall Street "
that the state is serious about repairing its finances.
While Malloy already has signed the budget, lawmakers still must approve "implementer bills " to finalize the spending plan, and the debate over the state's surplus is sure to continue.