Connecticut Governor Signs Budget, Closing Deficit Without Hiking Tax Rates
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the state’s new spending plan this week, a plan that closes the $3.7 billion deficit he inherited when he took office in January without raising taxes.
“For years, instability in the state’s finances has resulted in slow growth and volatility in our economy,” Lamont said in a statement. “When the fiscal year closes, Connecticut will have the largest rainy day fund in history and this budget maintains and grows our reserves, providing reliability and predictability for our taxpayers, businesses, and those looking to invest in our state well into the future.”
In May, the governor negotiated a deal with the state’s hospitals to resolve outstanding litigation between the two entities, the tentative agreement is expected to result in billions of dollars of savings to taxpayers.
The budget Lamont signed increases workforce development and education funding, and does not reduce municipal funding for any town.
The budget keeps the state’s sales tax flat and does not increase the income tax. It also eliminates Connecticut’s $250 business entity tax. A 10 cent tax will be imposed on single use plastic bags (such as those found in grocery stores) for the next two years leading up to an outright ban on the product.
In addition to the budget, Lamont also signed a number of other measures this week.
One raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 and imposed a tax on e-cigarettes.
Additionally, Lamont signed three measures extending protections to LGBTQ identifying residents.
One of the measures allows minors to seek HIV treatments without parental consent, which could prevent the spread of HIV among sexually active minors who are not out to their parents.
Another measure bans the “gay panic defense” in criminal assaults, and yet another forms an “LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network.”
Lamont was surrounded by members of the LGBTQ community during the signing ceremony and said his desire is for Connecticut to stay at the forefront of preserving gay rights.
Lamont also signed a mental health bill into law. It mandates that Connecticut insurance providers submit reports on their coverage of mental health and substance abuse services.
The reports will be given annually and start in 2021. The goal is to increase transparency so that providers meet state and federal standards. The standards prevent providers from putting further restrictions on access to mental health services.