Gov. Rell unveils budget revisions

(AP) - Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Wednesday she's willing to work with state lawmakers on an economic stimulus package for Connecticut, but her budget chief stressed that the state cannot afford tax rebates this year.

Rell, a Republican, addressed a joint session of the General Assembly on the opening day of the new legislative session.

She stressed that Connecticut is in good financial shape, unlike neighboring states experiencing budget deficits. But she said the state must remain fiscally prudent and urged lawmakers to keep that in mind when considering a stimulus plan.

"We cannot spend what we do not have," she said.

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers are trying to come up with ways to supplement proposed federal tax rebates. Some have suggested state tax rebates.

Rell's budget director, Robert Genuario, said rebates would not be prudent considering the state's surplus estimates have shifted from $263 million to $160 million.

"It really in my view would not be appropriate to take money that isn't in the door yet and spend it. What the citizens of this state need more than anything else is stability," he said. "Now is not the time to get silly."

Instead, Rell's budget offers a handful of smaller tax changes. They include resurrecting a plan for a local property tax cap, eliminating a $250 business entity tax and exempting working farms from the state's estate tax.

The governor and state lawmakers last year passed a two-year, $36 billion tax and spending plan. This session, which ends in May, they will make changes to the second year of that package. Rell's proposal is for an $18.5 billion one-year budget, about $89.3 million more than the budget approved last year.

Her proposed budget includes funding for criminal justice reforms, along with 125 additional corrections officers and 100 more state troopers over five years for traffic enforcement. She also proposes barring convicted sex offenders from legally changing their names, and suggests they have a special imprint on their driver's licenses.

"The more the public knows, the better protected they and their children will be," Rell said.

Rell's budget also includes money for tourism sites and promotion of nanotechnology. For Gov. Rell's State of the State address, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

Click here for lawmakers' reactions to Gov. Rell's budget proposal

Gov. Rell's Midterm Economic Report

State of Connecticut Budget and FinancialManagement Division

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