Weicker Blasts State For Spending
March 8, 2003 Courant
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Capitol Bureau Chief

It wasn't supposed to work this way, he says.

When the state income tax was created in 1991, then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. promised that the new tax would smooth out the up-and-down cycles of the state's sales-tax-based budget, providing a steady stream of income for generations to come.

The cycle of boom and bust was supposed to end.

Now, as the father of the tax, Weicker says he is exasperated by the way Connecticut has dug itself into its massive fiscal hole.  The state is hundreds of millions in the red despite having huge surpluses when the economy and the stock market were booming in early 2000.

"If you're going to spend it, it's not going to smooth out anything," Weicker said in a telephone interview from his Virginia home.  "They just spent the money. It's as simple as that - the income tax, the gambling money. I just don't know how you do it. I just don't. I think it's just outrageous. I really do."  Even with an across-the-board income tax increase that Gov. John G. Rowland recently signed, the state still faces a deficit reaching as much as $800 million in the next fiscal year.

From his current perspective in Virginia, Weicker says there's nothing wrong with the framework that he and the 1991 legislature created - a 4.5 percent income tax, a 6 percent sales tax and a reduced corporate profits tax. He criticized any talk of raising the sales tax, and said the 20 percent surcharge on corporate profits signed by Rowland is a bad idea.

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