Malloy: Budget plan will call for 'universal sacrifice"™
Budget plan: Governor to propose tax increases, consolidation of higher education
BRIDGEPORT -- Higher income and sales taxes, cuts in Medicaid benefits and the elimination of sales tax exemptions will be in the state budget plan that's being drafted by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Malloy said the package he will present to the General Assembly on Feb. 16 "is going to call for sacrifices from everyone in the state."
The governor, speaking to editors and reporters for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group, said Thursday a consolidation of higher education administration is also planned.
"I think every part of government will be asked to contribute to what we have to do, which is not spend more money than we spent last year, even though some of our expenses are going up to a great extent," Malloy said.
"My budget is going to ask for sacrifices from everyone in the state. Whether you're wealthy, to middle class, to somebody who relied on a benefit that you may no longer get, there will be more than enough sacrifices for everybody," he said. "This is not just shared sacrifice, this is universal sacrifice."
Asked to discuss his plans for raising taxes, Malloy said he would take "a broader, less restrictive" approach. "On the revenue side, everyone will be asked to sacrifice and on the service side, most people will be asked to sacrifice," he said.
While Malloy was cryptic in some answers and vague in others, it's clear he's crafting an austere budget, holding the line on the current $19 billion annual spending package while asking for more revenue from a state where unemployment is 9 percent.
He said the long-term unemployment of young adults and single adults is creating a "disproportionate" strain on state Medicaid programs that have grown in recent years without the general knowledge of legislative leaders. Medicaid is the federal-state health care plan for the poor.
"I think we're going to have to look at trimming some areas," Malloy said of the $3.8 billion Medicaid programs that make up nearly 20 percent of the budget.
"Some things we may have to require contributions towards that aren't currently requiring a co-pay. That sort of thing," Malloy said. "I want to keep the safety net intact. It doesn't mean it's completely unchanged, and so we're making decisions about how do we recoup, or how do we not spend some money that we would otherwise spend, if we did not change some of the rules."
He said the Medicaid revisions will not be comparable to those sought in Arizona, where organ transplants are being denied. "Having said that, I think to live within no additional spending, there will have to be some changes reflected," he said.
Malloy said that programs throughout state government will be terminated and he is still planning the consolidation of as many as one-third of state agencies to create savings in the second year of the two-year budget that would take effect July 1.
"There will be large-scale elimination and/or reduction of entities that are separately funded," Malloy said.
He indicated that some higher-level positions in the state university may be on the chopping block.
Asked if he is preparing a consolidation of the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University System, Malloy said "There are going to be large-scale consolidations. If you are asking me has a decision been made to consolidate all the university systems into one system, the answer is no such decision has been made."
Malloy, the former 14-year Stamford mayor, hinted that cash-strapped cities would be given some alternatives for enhancing revenue above and beyond local property taxes.
"I will make a down payment on becoming less reliant on property taxes," Malloy said. "The down payment will probably be smaller this year than if I had been elected governor four years ago. I am going to make a down payment with an absolutely atrocious budget."
Malloy said, "I believe it will," when asked whether the additional aid to cities would be above and beyond his previously stated support of new local sales and user fees for cities and towns to supplement some of the highest property taxes in the country.