Facing budget troubles, Governor Rowland breaks tax pledge, calls special legislative session to approve massive tax increases

WASHINGTON – Governor John Rowland (R) has called a special session of the Connecticut legislature to approve a package of tax increases and spending cuts. The state is facing a $500 million dollar shortfall this year and a projected $1.5 billion deficit next year.

Governor Rowland signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, in 1999. The pledge commits a public servant to oppose on principle any increase in taxes unless offset, dollar for dollar, by tax cuts. By proposing to impose a one percent surtax on all incomes over $1 million and to increase the state\’s cigarette tax, he has violated that pledge.

"It\’s a slap in the face to the people of Connecticut, who just reelected Rowland last month on a pledge of \’no new taxes,\’" said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. "Such tax-and-spend policies have become relics of history, driving businesses and entrepreneurs out of the state, destroying jobs, and leading to a lower standard of living for all. The people of Connecticut thought John Rowland understood that because he signed the pledge."

Most states have faced budget crunches recently. As revenue flowed into state coffers during the roaring 1990\’s, state governments spent all that was available, and made new commitments to spend in the future. When the economy slowed in mid-2000, revenues plunged and states were left with excessive promises to spend at ever-increasing rates. But not all states have resorted to tax increases.

"Connecticut\’s budget mess, like most states\’, is a result of unrestrained spending and lack of planning for the future" Norquist continued. "It is not a problem of too few taxes, but of undisciplined management. How irresponsible for Governor Rowland to shift the burden of mismanagement to the people in the form of higher taxes, rather than making the tough choices himself."