By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
HARTFORD – While many have blasted Gov. Dannel Malloy’s switch to a so-called “Plan B” budget, at least two mayors have applauded this move.
That’s because so far, Plan B hasn’t shifted more tax burdens onto municipalities, as they have been accustomed to in the past, according to two mayors from Greater Hartford.
Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford mayors on Wednesday briefly discussed the statewide debate over Malloy’s decision to begin 4,742 layoffs after talks with the state employees’ union stalled Monday night. Malloy is asking the union to concede $2 billion over two years. And he chose the to lay off employees instead “shifting the burden on municipalities. For these mayors, it’s a “wait and see situation.” But, they said, they know one thing.
“Gov. Malloy finally brought a perspective of a mayor to that office,” said West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka at a gathering in Hartford Wednesday. “And he [proposed a budget] exactly as a mayor would.”
Republicans are calling for no more tax increases and have pointed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cumo. Both men went against raising taxes. Slifka said they solved their budget problems by shifting the burden of tax increases onto towns.
“Those two solve their budget problems on the backs of municipalities,” he said. He added that their choices were either to decrease services or increase taxes.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he was pleased with Malloy’s proposed budget and his Plan B choice, so much so that he plans to give Malloy the fourth key to the city.
“There’s just no way we could switch that kind of burden on tax payers in the city,” Segarra said.”
Although, Malloy had pledged not to hurt cities, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc expressed concerns about state aid to towns, especially the payment in lieu of taxes or, PILOT, which is a big chunk of most town budgets.
Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas via phone said laying off state workers would also be hurting municipalities. Those state workers, he said, live in towns and cities. If they get laid off, they would have to tap safety net services in cities.
Up to 5,000 state workers could be laid off if the union and the governor’s administration fail to reach an agreement. Other cuts proposed in the Plan B budget include the closing the Commission on Human and Opportunities, 17 vocation technical high schools, state library and prisons.
In a New York Times report, a union spokesman, Larry Dorman, said Malloy’s $40.1 billion budget demands are too much. He added: “like all middle class families, are already paying 10 percent of our income in state and local taxes, while millionaires are only paying 5 percent of their income and some of our largest corporations are paying little or no taxes at all.”