Making good on his promise, Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. late Friday vetoed a revenue package that did not provide for an income tax.
So lawmakers yesterday were once again considering an income tax-based budget proposal, this one drafted by Senate Majority Leader Cornelius O'Leary, D-Windsor Locks.
The plan would tax income of more than $75,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples at a rate of 9% a year, to raise $790 million in the coming fiscal year.
"This does stand a good chance of passage, because it doesn't hit the middle class and the poor as much as the governor's plan would," said Keith M. Griffin, press secretary for the majority leader.
Whether the governor would veto this plan even if the legislature passed it could not be determined yesterday. Mr. Griffin said the new bill would not be brought to the floor of the either chamber by Wednesday, when the regular session ends.
In a veto statement last week, Gov. Weicker said any plan to close the $2.7 billion budget gap projected for fiscal 1992 should be "fair," benefit the state's economy, and avert the need for annual tax increases.
"This bill, despite the good intentions of its proponents, fails on all such counts," the governor said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Although he votoed the bill, Gov. Weicker said "many parts of the whole merit adoption.
He also said he took no "pride of authorship" in the income tax-based revenue plan he submitted to the General Assembly in February, which the lawmakers rebuffed. "My hope is for accord," the governor said.
If the legislature and the Weicker administration cannot reach accord by midnight Wednesday, the governor said he will call a special session to ensure that the state has a budget in place for fiscal 1992, which begins July 1.
A study prepared by the Office of Fiscal Analysis, a nonpartisan research arm of the legislature, showed the revenue package would place a heavier burden on the state's poorer residents.
For example, families earning from $10,000 to $20,000 would pay an average of $836 in state taxes under the legislature's plan and only $506 under Gov. Weicker's proposal, the study found. Those families pay about $633 under the state's current system, almost entirely in sales tax.
Families with income in the $20,000 to $30,000 bracket would pay an estimated $925 to the state next year under Gov. Weicker's proposal and $1,136 under the lawmaker's plan.
Gov. Weicker's plan costs more for families making $40,000 and over.
The largest single net tax burden of the coalition plan -- 5.78% -- falls on residents making from $10,000 to $20,000 annually.
Legislature leaders -- including some who supported the bill that passed narrowly last week -- commissioned the study, according to an official in the office of fiscal analysis. The official said lawmakers had been shocked and angered by the study's findings.
A poll released by The Hartford Courant last week showed erosion in public support for the legislature's alternative to Gov. Weicker's income tax plan.
Before a coalition of lawmakers made their proposals known, 57% of those responding to the poll favored an alternative to the income tax, while only 32% of respondents favored the governor's package.
After details of the legislature counter-proposal emerged, support dropped to only 39%. Support for the governor's plan rose to 42%.
Whether public sentiment will give Gov. Weicker an edge as the debate goes into the homestretch remains unclear. One prominent legislator, House Minority Leader Edward C. Krawiecki Jr., R-Bristol, critized the Courant poll. The Associated Press reported Mr. Krawiecki said the poll "apparently was designed to produce the results the pollsters wanted to see, not what the public believes."