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Easton Man Braces for State Tax Hikes

The last thing Easton native Terry Wayne wants to worry about is more taxes on gasoline. The NYU graduate has spent his winter cleaning roofs and plowing driveways -- a vocation that finds him at the gas pump more often than he'd like.

"I was just arguing with my partner," Wayne said as he paused from putting up flyers at the Easton Village Store. "He was accusing me of driving elsewhere because he can't believe how much money we're spending on gas. It's definitely a strain on the business."

Gov. Dan Malloy 's proposed budget includes a number of cuts and new taxes, including a 3-cent rise in the gas tax to 28 cents per gallon. This would push Connecticut's gas tax to the sixth-highest in the nation, according to ConnecticutGasPrices.com.

The governor also suggested additional taxes on alcohol and tobacco. "It's smart," Wayne said. "People won't have a roof over their heads but they're gonna have their cigarettes."

Over in Weston, Robert Turner takes a pragmatic approach to Malloy's plan. "We're spoiled as a nation," he said. "We want lower taxes and bigger expenses. ... He's got to raise taxes." Turner added that people have grown accustomed to a lifestyle of consumption and that Malloy's proposed tax hikes represent "a moment of truth."

"We're living way beyond our means," he said.

The governor's proposal isn't all tax increases -- it includes $2 billion in concessions from state employees, eliminating 30 percent of state agencies and a wage freeze for state workers that could save $300 million. He also suggested an incentive for the first five companies that bring 200 or more jobs to the state.

During the past few years, the state has dug itself into a $3.2 billion cash hole that officials are now hoping to fill with sound fiscal strategy.

"Right now, we're in pretty tough shape," Malloy said in his budget address to the General Assembly. " The people of Connecticut are good, decent, hard-working people. ... I believe they are willing to make sacrifices, if they understand why they're being asked to do so, and if they believe that Connecticut is serious about fixing what's broken."

Turner is ready to make his sacrifice, but only if the state spends its money responsibly. "A tax system should be absolutely simple," he said. "Americans will spend an extraordinary amount of money on taxes if our money is well-spent. ... Our money is not well-spent at all."

Tell us your thoughts on Gov. Malloy's proposed budget.

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