COMMENTARY– A bipartisan budget to move our state forward

In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 16 th , history was made. For the first time in over 40 years, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a no-tax- increase budget that was developed by legislative Republicans, and sent it to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy for his signature.

What started as a Republican budget became a bipartisan budget as three Democratic State Senators, and then five Democratic Representatives, joined with all Republicans in voting in favor of this budget. It had been 141 days since House and Senate Republicans put forward the first version of this budget, only to have Democratic leaders who hold a razor-thin majority refuse to call it.

These Democratic leaders in the legislature preferred failing to deliver any budget until 70 days after the start of the fiscal year, allowing the governor to run the state through ruinous executive orders, including a looming order that goes into effect on October 1 st that takes away all of Shelton’s $5.8 million in Education Cost Share funding for our local schools.

The historical nature of the successful passage of the GOP budget goes beyond the superficial politics of the event. It represents a turning point in the philosophy of a working majority in the General Assembly away from reflexive job-killing tax hikes such those enacted in 2011 and 2015. These tax hikes have placed Connecticut behind almost all other states in recovery from the Great Recession – resulting in the loss of large employers like General Electric, Aetna and now Alexion.

There are many important features of this budget document. First, it does not resort to another massive tax increase to eliminate the projected $3.5 billion deficit – the budget that

Democratic leaders negotiated with Governor Malloy and were preparing to unleash on the state contained a whopping $1.5 billion in new taxes on residents. Among these was a 55% tax increase on hospitals – a well the governor and legislature have repeatedly gone to since 2011.

Other tax increases were planned for hotel tax, a new tax on cell phone bills, a new restaurant tax, a new fantasy sports tax, and elimination of several income tax and sales tax credits, to name a few. In the end, the majority did not have the votes to pass this third massive tax hike in six years.

The bipartisan budget that emerged Saturday morning is the product of recognizing that the state is living beyond its means to sustain the level of government spending it has been making.

This budget makes important structural changes to the way our state budgets which will produce long-term savings for the state.

This budget restores critical education funding to our towns, preserves essential core social services for those most in need, invests in our state parks and tourism, and prioritizes transportation infrastructure.

That isn’t to say there is no sacrifice. We implement a 10% reduction to state agency accounts, achieve 10% savings through overtime reductions, and institute a hiring freeze on non-24- hour non-union posts. We also make cuts to the legislature such as reducing the number of committees.

You can read more detail about this plan by going to cthousegop.com. If you feel that this budget is better than the sweeping cuts to local education and massive tax hikes, I urge you to contact Governor Malloy’s office at 800-406- 1527 and urge him to sign this budget into law and end this budget impasse once and for all.

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