Weicker to offer his solutions to another state budget crisis

Former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who drove the adoption of the state income tax as one of the chief solutions to state government’s fiscal crisis in 1991, will make a rare public appearance later this month to discuss how he would resolve Connecticut’s current economic woes.

Weicker, a three-term U.S. senator who was elected governor as a third-party candidate in 1990, is scheduled to speak June 17 at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Cromwell.

Also a former first selectman of Greenwich, Weicker had been a Republican during his service in municipal government and in the Senate. But he left the GOP and formed A Connecticut Party in 1990 when he made his successful bid for the governor’s office, toppling two sitting congressmen – Republican John G. Rowland and Democrat Bruce Morrison – in the general election.

Weicker, who had said during his campaign he wouldn’t impose a state income tax during his first year in office, reversed himself after taking office in January 1991, arguing a tax on income was the only way to close a deficit that hovered close to one-seventh of the entire state budget. The income tax was adopted in late August after a spring- and summer-long battle with the General Assembly that included three vetoes of budget bills.

According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, state government faces a built-in shortfall of $3.37 billion in the 2011-12 budget, the first one the next governor and legislature must craft.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Brookfield Republican, is not seeking re-election this fall after six years in office.

Weicker current serves as president of the board of directors for Trust for America’s Health, a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan health research organization.