Wednesday, March 29, 2023



On Eve of Budget Vote, Malloy Still in the Dark

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

Not only has Gov. Dannel P. Malloy been shut out of bipartisan budget talks for three weeks, it’s become clear that the governor and his staff will have little opportunity to review or push for changes in a final budget bill before it is debated Wednesday by the Senate.

As late as 4:15 p.m. today, legislative leaders of both parties acknowledge they had not prepared all documentation for the review of a Democratic governor whose relationship with a legislature still dominated by Democrats is frayed, if not unraveled, over the inability to agree on a budget.

The absence of a budget document on an the eve of a vote frustrated not only the governor’s staff but lobbyists, who complained the State Police had ordered them to leave building at 5 p.m., the normal closing time, despite a House Democratic caucus that was expected to stretch into the evening.

The lobbyists were looking to obtain information, not influence lawmakers.

Car Tax Repeal Hits a Snag, Tentative CT Budget Still Unbalanced

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

Senate Democratic leaders hinted today that plans to eliminate property taxes on motor vehicles next year as part of a new state budget would be scaled back or scrapped altogether — just two business days after legislative leaders announced the initiative.

And while lawmakers from both parties declared nearly one week ago they had agreed on a “balanced” budget framework for this fiscal year and next, Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said that all of the numbers still don’t add up.

“I still remain very much in favor of repealing the car tax,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said. “It’s something that I think is a nuisance tax, and something working families across Connecticut would like to see go away. But again we’re dealing with negotiations with three other caucuses and we have to work on an agreement that would bring votes.”

Looney, who also met with reporters after briefing Senate Democrats on the tentative budget deal during a three-hour caucus, said the plan to eliminate the property tax starting July 2018 now faces “an adjustment.”

Comings & Goings: Rye Ridge Deli Opens on Main St. Image
In a much anticipated opening, Rye Ridge Deli welcomed customers today at 159 Main St., the longtime home of Oscar’s Deli. It is the third Rye Ridge Deli for partners Scott Martin and Mike Ventorino, who also have outlets in Stamford and Rye Brook, New York. Oscar’s closed in August 2016, a week before the death of longtime owner Lee Papageorge after a 42-year presence on Main Street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Comings & Goings: Romanacci Pizza Bar Opens on Railroad Place Image
Romanacci Pizza Bar opened today at 50 Railroad Place, across from the New York-bound side of the Metro-North Westport station in Saugatuck. The eatery features takeout and delivery service and is open early in the morning to accommodate commuters with a “breakfast pizza.” Co-owner Graziano Ricci is pictured preparing a Romanacci-signature flatbread pizza. Hours are Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Haberstroh Sons Made Partners at Dad’s Firm

Chuck and Steve Haberstroh, sons and managing directors at dad Charlie Haberstroh’s Westport-based CastleKeep Investment Advisors LLC, have been made partners, together owning a minority share of CastleKeep. Image
Steve (l) and Chuck Haberstroh: new partners. Contributed photos

The firm serves high and ultrahigh net worth individuals and families in Fairfield County and across the globe. An announcement described the addition of the partners as part of the company’s long-term succession plan.

Charlie Haberstroh, who remains president and CEO, will maintain a majority ownership stake in the company, the announcement said. In addition, Lauren Quesada was promoted to vice president, investments.

“We manage the financial affairs for wealthy families,” said Charlie Haberstroh. “Many of our clients also happen to be business owners. We’ve been helping our clients manage their assets, which include family owned businesses, through multiple generations for years. This was the right time for our business and our family to practice what we preach.”

Malloy Criticizes Budget Outline; Fasano Calls Him ‘Irrelevant’

By Mark Pazniokas

The syncopated rollout of the General Assembly’s bipartisan budget deal got a harshly skeptical review today from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who either will be the final arbiter of what legislative leaders say will be a satisfactory ending to Connecticut’s long-running budget drama — or just a loud voice from the balcony.

Two days after House and Senate leaders announced an agreement in principle, questions abound about the depth and breadth of spending cuts, the distribution of municipal aid, the source of new revenues, and the extent to which collective bargaining and other labor laws will be changed.

Malloy, a Democrat struggling to resolve the fourth and final two-year budget of his tumultuous two terms as governor of a state yet to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, said he will not accept a budget briefing from legislative leaders until they can produce a document answering those questions.

“I certainly assumed I would have seen a budget well before this hour today — which is what, 46 hours since the budget was announced?” said Malloy, who spoke to reporters from behind his desk at the State Capitol. “In reality, without a line-by-line document with hard numbers, there is no balanced budget to discuss.”

New Budget Might End Property Tax on Vehicles

By Keith M. Phaneuf

State legislative leaders say they are strongly considering eliminating local property taxes on motor vehicles in the state budget they hope to adopt next week.

But while they have proposals to help cities and towns cut costs, leaders conceded communities might have to offset most of the lost revenue simply by boosting taxes elsewhere — on homeowners and businesses.

“You’re being taxed one way or another,” said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who called the motor vehicle levy a “nuisance tax” that is difficult for towns to administer. “We believe that not taxing a motor vehicle is a good policy.”

“Towns and cities manage their budgets way better than state government ever could,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said.

Bipartisan Budget Would Tax Teachers, Working Poor and Smokers

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

Republican leaders have agreed to raise taxes as part of the bipartisan budget framework announced Wednesday, sources say, with several of the levies hitting what typically are seen as Democratic constituencies: public school teachers, the working poor and smokers.

Sources close to the state budget talks told CT Mirror that Republicans, who relented last month on their no-tax stance to vote for a budget that raised taxes on hospitals and hit the working poor by reducing the earned income tax credit, are being asked to also raise cigarette taxes and impose a special levy on teachers.

Both parties also have discussed raising income taxes on the middle class by reducing the property tax credit. And sources said the deal would restrict access to that $200 credit, making it available only to the elderly and to households with dependents.

Whose constituencies will pay more taxes or give up more services to help end Connecticut’s 16-week budget impasse is certain to be part of the closed-door discussions that will begin today when House leaders present the details to the Democratic and Republican caucuses. The two Senate caucuses are to meet Monday, with the hope of voting a budget later in the week.