State businesses balking at proposed state budget

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NEW HAVEN--On Monday and Tuesday, the phones at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce rang off the hook.

With the legislative session due to end at midnight Wednesday, Gov. Dan Malloy’s proposed budget is worrying business owners, large and small.

“We’re looking at $700 million in additional taxes this year for businesses,” said Tony Rescigno, president of the chamber.

A spokesperson for Malloy says the budget the governor set forth best protects the middle class, “while our wealthiest -- millionaires and multi-millionaires -- will pay their fair share, and it will all culminate in transformational improvements to our state.”

Not so says one small New Haven manufacturing business.

“He’s killing us,” Robert Cowles, owner of Cougar Electronics, said of Malloy. Cowles' focuses on high voltage and power applications. “With taxes, this will be the second highest increase in taxes.”

The highest tax increase in state history was implemented during Malloy’s first term in office. If the proposed tax increases make the final cut, Cowles might be forced to close a business he purchased 17 years ago. Ten employees would be out of work.

“This is not business as usual, this isn’t just the legislature wants to raise taxes and business says no,” said Joe Brennan, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.  “This really is about the future of the state of Connecticut and what direction we are going to take. Right now, we’re looking at growing government instead of growing the economy.”

Rescigno, the former first selectman of North Haven, says he calls one group of businesses when he wants to know the truth about how many businesses are fleeing the state.

“You talk to moving companies and you’ll hear from them directly that they’ve moved a ton of businesses out of the state,” he said.