Democratic State Sen. Gayle Slossberg said Tuesday she voted against the governor's budget proposal because it has hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending.
She told a small crowd outside Milford City Hall that she understood some tax increases would be necessary to close a $3.2 billion budget deficit, but couldn't in good conscience vote for any tax increase knowing that included was $623 million in new spending for the first year and about $640 million in the second year.
"My father taught me if you can't pay your bills, don't go out and buy anything new. Well, we got to do that at the state level too," she told a small crowd gathered for a press conference outside Milford City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
"Unfortunately, this budget didn't do that. There was new spending in this budget. There were pet projects in this budget. I don't believe that that's something I could stand up and honestly ask you to pay more taxes for. "
Some of the new spending was good, but lots of it was bad, Slossberg said.
"Some of that new spending wasn't bad. Some of it was targeted toward economic development. But some of it was for pet projects, the things that you read about and hear about that we call earmarks or pork. And it was in there, and there was a lot in there," she said.
"I said, you know, how could I in good conscience ask you to pay more taxes to pay $300,000 for a playhouse in southeastern Connecticut? How could I ask you to pay more for taxes to add a couple of more administrators into state government? I couldn't do that."
She noted that in a visit last week to the Milford Chamber of Commerce, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy called for "shared sacrifice." She said she knew a tax increase would be needed to address the state deficit, but once she uncovered the pork in the budget, she didn't even consider a tax boost.
"I never even got to the tax side of this budget because this budget included hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending...but some of it was for pet projects," she said.
"For me, a tax increase is what you do as a last resort," she added.
She said she's sure others in her party were displeased with her breaking ranks. The Democrat-controlled state Senate passed the $40.1 billion budget early Tuesday morning with a 19 to 17 vote after nearly 11 hours of debate.
Besides Slossberg, Sens. Ed Meyer of Guilford and Joan Hartley of Waterbury -- broke party ranks and opposed the package with the GOP.
The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday.
But ultimately, Slossberg said, she answers to the taxpayers who voted her into office.
"I did the best I could do for you, to stand up and say this isn't right, I don't support this," she said.
The comment was met with applause.
"Ultimately, you sent me here and I've always told you that I do what I think is right," she said. "It is all about you and at the end of day."
The governor put out a budget that was balanced, Slossberg noted.
"No gimmicks. No borrowing. No one-time, one-shot wonders. Nothing fancy. Just an honest budget," she said.
But Malloy had to make some compromises to ensure its passage, Slossberg said.
"But he has to negotiate with the Legislature," she said.
The governor put out this state regarding the Senate's passage of the budget:
“The Senators who voted for this budget early this morning should be commended for making the tough decisions necessary to begin the process of getting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order. That was a tough vote to make, but it was the right vote to make. It was a vote for an honest budget, one that’s balanced with no gimmicks, and one that will stabilize the state’s finances and lead to our ultimate goal: job creation. I’d like to thank Senate President Don Williams, Majority Leader Marty Looney, Appropriations Chairman Toni Harp and Finance Chairman Eileen Daily in particular. They took the budget I proposed, they made it better, and they passed it.”
Patch is awaiting a response from the governor's office about Slossberg's comments.