NB Politicus

“Revolutionary” State Budget? Property Tax Relief, New ED Aid For NB Is Part of Democratic Package

by John McNamara

A tentative agreement among Democratic leaders on a biennial state budget  that begins July 1st appears to be good news for New Britain and other municipalities in terms of property tax relief and continued aid to the under-funded city schools.

Late Saturday (May 31) Democratic legislative leaders and representatives of the Malloy Administration agreed on a revenue package that will drastically cut the car tax. The measure will set aside the city’s property tax rate of 49 mills on vehicles and cap the tax for cars to no more than 29 mills in a statewide formula.   The levy on vehicles will be in effect for the 2015 tax year if OK’d in a final vote. At the same time the plan will designate a percentage of sales tax revenue for transportation and new funding to cities and towns to reduce burdens on property taxes.

New Britain's legislative delegation will wrap up the 2015 session June 3. From left Rep. Bobby Sanchez (25), Rep. Peter Tercyak (26), State SenatorTerry Gerratana (6) and Rep. Rick Lopes (24). Absent from photo is Rep. Betty Boukus (22)

New Britain’s legislative delegation will wrap up the 2015 session June 3. From left Rep. Bobby Sanchez (25), Rep. Peter Tercyak (26), State  Terry Gerratana (6) and Rep. Rick Lopes (24). Absent from photo is Rep. Betty Boukus (22). ( F Gerratana photo 2014)

The Democratic package, if approved by the Legislature, represents the most significant change in Connecticut’s tax structure in decades, making the system more progressive and fairer to New Britain and other cities.

Taxes will most certainly  increase by a smidgen for high-income individuals with the ability to pay. For most citizens burdened by one of the nation’s heaviest property tax burdens there is relief.  State Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) called the proposal “revolutionary” and said “this budget meets the state’s obligations and provides historic property tax relief for the people of Connecticut,”  It includes provisions to:

–  Raise the income tax rate on millionaires from 6.7 to 6.99 percent

–  Maintain the state sales tax at 6.35 percent and designating half a percent each to local property tax relief and the Malloy transportation initiative. Proposed sales taxes on accounting, engineering, advertising and dry cleaning were eliminated from the plan.

– Triple the tax on computer and data processing from 1 to 3 percent.

– Adjust Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) grants to municipalities with high mill rates where state property and nonprofit institutions hold significant amounts of property.

As the legislative session ends New Britain’s legislators have been mobilizing to retain a fair share of municipal aid,  support state-funded programs and maintain New Britain’s share of education funding.

Details will be forthcoming over the next several days, but it is likely that the delegation has succeeded and the city will improve on the $85 million (covering 68%)  it now gets under state cost sharing formula to underwrite the education budget proposed by the Stewart administration at a flat-funded $124,183,673.

Despite billion dollar deficits confronting the Malloy administration and legislators in  state budgets since 2011, New Britain’s education aid has steadily increased over the last four years.  It will do so again if the budget package wins approval by Wednesday, June 3.

To be sure New Britain schools will remain under-funded in comparison to comparable communities in the absence of more equity in the way educational funding is distributed. The state budget package now on the table, however,  is a step in the right direction.  New Britain has fallen behind more sharply than others because of a consistent pattern of the city setting budget priorities that stiffed the schools year after year, but increased spending in municipal government. This year is no exception.

Attention now turns to the adoption of the municipal budget. The Common Council is due to act on  the Stewart Administration’s $224,757,851 budget and 49 mill tax rate by mid-June.  No matter how the city acts there is now room for optimism on property tax relief and education aid given the prospect of a “revolutionary” state budget plan being adopted.

A Vote For Dan Malloy

Posted in 2010 Election, Governor by nbpoliticus on February 7, 2010

In 2010 Democrats need a gubernatorial nominee who has the best chance of winning an office not held by the majority party in 20 years. The open seat for Governor has spawned a number of Democratic hopefuls, all of whom offer impressive credentials from local and state government and the business world. The choice boils down to an individual who can inspire rank and file Democrats and who demonstrates a capacity to govern that will translate into significant support from independent voters in a year when the electorate wants an end to State Capitol gridlock.

Dan Malloy, who led Connecticut’s fourth largest city for 14 years, is a seasoned and capable elected official who has credentials to navigate the state out from under its systemic fiscal problems. A Governor Malloy can restore public confidence in the Governor’s office. He offers an energetic approach to job creation, transportation, education and housing. His record in Stamford in those areas may be the best indication voters have as to what could happen throughout the state.

For months Malloy has been providing compelling reasons for Democrats to support him. A former prosecutor, Malloy is a feisty candidate who will take on the drivel that will come out Foley or whoever the GOP nominates. He favors the Citizen’s Election Program and a fair system of public financing. The suggestion by some that deep pockets are a prerequisite for a Democrat to win is a democracy-killing idea. We don’t need local reinforcement of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to completely turn the country over to the fat cats.

Malloy, as are other Democrats pursuing the office, strongly advocates for health care reform, including the health care partnership pooling bill that would have saved consumers and cities and towns many millions of dollars had it not died by the Governor’s pen in 2009. That’s about a million bucks in savings for New Britain.

On the economy, Malloy has offered sound criticism of a moribund Rell administration with a call for a more expeditious use of federal Recovery Act funds. On job creation, a Governor Malloy would streamline the alphabet soup of state economic development agencies that could use both cost-saving consolidation and marching orders from an engaged Governor.

There is a clarity of purpose to Malloy’s candidacy in 2010. He’s put in the sweat equity to earn the support of Democrats who backed DeStefano in 2006. A testament to the clarity is that he would be in the race whether the heavily-favored Republican incumbent was in it or not. After 20 years out of the corner office, the Democrats need a candidate who can inspire our base and expand support to unaffiliated voters in 2010. Malloy has shown the drive and commitment to be that candidate.

– John McNamara