Gov. Lamont delivers budget address in Hartford

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HARTFORD -

Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday delivered his first budget address for the state since taking office.

Lamont talked about cutting property taxes, bringing tolls to the state and eliminating exemptions on some sales tax.

"Let me say this to everyone. People in this state are getting squeezed," said Lamont. "The middle class is getting hammered."

During his address, Lamont argued that highway tolls are unavoidable for both cars and trucks.

"I would only consider this option if we maximized the discount for Connecticut EZ-Pass users and offered a 'frequent driver' discount," he said.

Lamont said the big change for Connecticut's budget would be sales tax, which would now be charged on almost everything except groceries.

Some lawmakers expressed their disapproval with the budget, especially on issues like tolls and the sales tax.

"You'll get on the road on Saturday, you'll pay at least one toll," said state Rep. Themis Klarides. "You'll go to take your cat or your dog to the vet, they'll tell you, 'You know what, you have to pay extra now.'"

Lamont also said with the new budget, homeowners will get a $200 property tax credit, workers wouldn't get an income tax hike and the wealthy would get cuts in businesses taxes and the gift tax.

The budget also includes a plan requiring towns or local boards of education to assume responsibility for 25 percent of teacher pensions.

The proposed budget has to be passed by the end of June.

Lamont's budget also includes new taxes on sugary drinks, alcohol and a major fee on e-cigarette sales.

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