- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

BOSTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) — New Hampshire again is shunning taxes to pay for its new budget, but proposed higher taxes has Connecticut's governor threatening a veto.

In Massachusetts, a plan proposed to close a current budget deficit heads for a conference committee next week.

The Democratic-controlled House in Connecticut early Friday approved a deficit-cutting package that relied heavily on tax increases on individuals, corporations, cigarettes and home sellers, according to the Hartford Courant.

It also called on Republican Gov. John Rowland to reinstate 2,800 laid-off state workers, which he has refused to do without union concessions.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm going to veto this bill," Rowland said Thursday as lawmakers prepared to debate the proposal to close a $650-million budget deficit.

Rowland, at a news conference, scrawled "Veto!" across a chart of the Democratic plan that called for: "New taxes $800 million, spending cuts $150 million, union concessions $0."

"We have to have a balanced approach to balancing the budget," he said. He called for a plan that brought tax increases and program cuts more in balance.

In New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Craig Benson on Thursday offered a two-year, $8.7-billion state budget that also eliminates a $70-million deficit.

The proposal called for a 7-percent increase in overall spending, but no new or increased taxes.

"No income tax, no sales tax, no new taxes, no higher taxes, no way," he said in his budget address.

It does, however, he said, include some pain.

The plan would result in 116 layoffs, about 50 at the women's prison in Goffstown, which will be closed and the inmates moved to the corrections facility in Laconia.

It also requires the Department of Health and Services to make further cuts in its $12-million budget each year. Half of that would come from eliminating upper management positions, according to the Union Leader of Manchester.

In Massachusetts, the state Senate voted late Thursday to tap reserve funds and raise real estate transaction fees to close a budget gap estimated at $650 million for this fiscal year.

The Senate measure would generate $228 million on top of the $343 million in spending cuts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney made unilaterally last month.

While the Senate ignored further program cuts suggested by Romney, such as in Medicaid, the governor has signaled he would likely sign the measure.

A House-Senate conference committee is to meet next week to iron out differences in their versions.

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