- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 20 (UPI) — The Democratic-controlled Connecticut Legislature was faced Thursday with trying to find a budget compromise to satisfy the state's Republican governor.

Gov. John G. Rowland on Wednesday vetoed a proposal he said relied too heavily on increased taxes to close budget deficits for the current and coming fiscal years.

"The deal-breaker was the taxes," Rowland told reporters, denying he vetoed the measure because it called for him to reinstate 2,800 laid-off state workers.

The proposal, designed to close deficits of about $650 million in the current fiscal year and as much as $2 billion in the next fiscal year, included increases in the state income tax, corporation tax, cigarette tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, and the real estate conveyance tax.

It also called for cuts in spending.

After the veto, Rowland pledged to work with lawmakers to come up with a compromise tax plan before he presents his two-year budget proposal next Thursday.

Without going into details, he said the budget will need to be balanced with steep tax increases combined with deep cuts in state programs and in cash grants to cities and towns.

Rowland said the state-employee unions have written themselves out of the deficit-reduction process by filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against him in an attempt to rescind state worker layoffs, the Hartford Courant reported.

"The unions aren't going to agree to anything, so they're not going to be part of this budget discussion over the next eight days and they're certainly not going to be part of my budget presentation on the 27th," Rowland said.

Rowland had laid off the workers because the unions refused to go along with wage and benefit concessions.

The governor said if the $2-billion budget deficit is not closed, "there will be more layoffs. Guaranteed."

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