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Lamont, Democrats On Collision Course Over Raising Taxes For The Wealthy

The Connecticut State Capitol Building in Hartford
The Connecticut State Capitol Building in Hartford

Democratic legislative leaders in Connecticut seem headed for a showdown with Democratic Governor Ned Lamont over a proposed millionaire’s tax in a state with some of the highest income inequality in the country.

The measure would raise taxes on individuals who make $500,000 and couples with incomes of more than $1 million.

Martin Looney is Democratic Senate President. He said now is the time to overhaul what he calls a fundamentally unfair tax system. He wants to increase taxes on millionaires to raise money to invest in underserved communities after pandemic relief funds run out.

“It’s essential to have the debate now and not fall off a cliff a couple of years from now when the federal money is no longer there,” Looney said.

Governor Ned Lamont, who reported $5.3 million dollars in income on his taxes the year before he became governor, said new income taxes are not necessary. He said the state has a nearly $4 billion rainy day fund due to a windfall in revenues from high earners on Wall Street.

“I think we have a pretty good budget without raising taxes," Lamont said.

Gary Rose is a political scientist at Sacred Heart University. He expects Lamont to win the debate. He said Democrats don't have the votes to override a veto by the governor.

“In the end we do have to get a budget passed. And on that measure I’m sure some of the Democrats are going to accept some of the governor’s demands,” Rose said.

The governor and lawmakers have until the end of session on June 9 to reach agreement on a budget.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.