Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Democrats to Take Budget Proposals to the People

Change in Strategy Follows Rell/Amann Spat

Better late than never.

Despite a pledge to vote on their proposal as early as this week, Democrats postponed a vote Tuesday night on a $15.5 billion budget proposal they knew would be immediately rejected by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

Democrats said they will instead begin selling their plan to the public - spreading the word to citizens back in their hometowns. (Keating)

At last, some sense! The Democratic plan can be sold to the public on the following grounds:

1. Desperately needed help for cities, towns and school districts
2. Easing property tax burdens
3. Taxing those who can most afford it
4. Providing health care for those who need it most

If the Democrats sell their plan in a sensible, responsible way instead of resorting to strongarm tactics like Amann has been threatening, they will probably gain enough support to get at least some of what they want.

Rell's people have been criticizing the move:

Rell's spokesman, Dennis Schain, responded. "The Democrats are missing the boat once again if they think this is about sales and marketing," he said. "The governor's budget plan has widespread popular support because it's the right plan for our state. ... The Democratic prescription for the budget gap they created is to raise a billion dollars in taxes for a billion dollars in new spending." (Keating)

I'm not sure what he's talking about. The two proposed budgets are clearly not a billion dollars apart. The Democrats' budget is $15.5 billion, while Rell's is $15.27 billion (Keating). Both violate the state spending cap, but for different reasons, and both raise taxes in various ways. This shouldn't be too hard to sort out.

I imagine that Rell will compromise, and we'll get a budget that no one is entirely satisfied with, but everybody gets a little something out of. A possible compromise would be a lesser increase in cigarette and alcohol taxes coupled with a smaller "millionaire's tax" to pay for essentials like municipal aid, schools and transportation projects. I could live with that.

Keating, Christopher and Bill Leukhardt. "Democrats Shift Gears On Budget." Hartford Courant 27 April, 2005.

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