William J. Cibes Jr., Connecticut's top budget official, on Friday told municipal analysts that the state's lawmakers will not succeed in repealing the new tax on wages and salaries.
"I do not believe that the repeal will succeed," Mr. Cibes said. Even if a majority of lawmakers in the state's General Assembly supports the income-tax repeal movement, he said, the majority will not prove sufficient to override the veto of Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.
"We are confident that we have more than a third who are convinced of the absolute necessity of the tax that we have adopted, so the income tax will be with us," Mr. Cibes told more than 100 analysts gathered for a meeting of the Municipal Analysts Group of New York.
To override a governor's veto, lawmakers in both chambers of the General Assembly must muster a two-thirds majority.
Mr. Cibes said the legislature would not be able to reconvene for a special session until sometime next month.
One political observer in Hartford, however, questioned Mr. Cibes's contention that not enough lawmakers will join the incipient tax revolt, which earlier this month brought more than 50,000 protesters to Hartford screaming for the repeal of the new 4.5% tax on wages and salaries.
"The movement is a lot stronger than people thought," said Michael B. Levin, acting president of the nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group Connecticut Public Expenditures Council. "I don't think it's a lead-pipe certainty at all. If five or 10 lawmakers jump ship, you might have a repeal."
Between now and any vote on a repeal measure, Mr. Cibes said, the administration needs to step up its efforts to convince Connecticut citizens that the income tax, while unpleasant, is better than the alternative.
Replacing the income tax with an increase in the state's sale levy, Mr. Cibes aid, would require that the current 6% rate rise to 13.7% or that the sales tax be applied to a number of itemsot now subject to it, such as food and medical services.
"We hope to do a better job of communicating in the future the impact of an income tax in the state on its citizens," Mr. Cibes said. "We need to inform people of the impact of the alternative," which, he added, would probably include "a severe reduction in our bond ratings" and a consequent increase in borrowing costs.
He said the governor would try to communicate that to the voters, as well as the notion that not taxing income effectively would drain nearly $400 million from the state a year. That money, he said, is the amount citizens can deduct from their federal tax returns, after paying taxes to the state.
If Connecticut does not have an income tax, Mr. Cibes said, it loses money to Washington. "Forty other states are taking advantage of the deductions on state taxes," Mr. Cibes said.
In addition to addressing threats to the state's new revenue system, Mr. Cibes also discussed official state revenue estimates for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began July 1.
Those estimates show corporate taxes falling 15%, rather than dropping the 9% expected, and sales tax revenues falling 3%, rather than showing the anticipated 2% growth.
One analyst who attended Friday's luncheon said the revenue numbers show that the state's new revenue system is proving difficult to predict. Nicole Anderes, a vice president and director of research at Roosevelt & Cross, said that Mr. Cibes's comments on revenues "seem to indicate that economic assumptions for fiscal 1992 might not be conservative enough."