State Sen. Kevin C. Kelly, a Republican whose district includes Shelton, voted against the new state budget on Monday because he said it increases spending too much.
According to Kelly, the $44 billion two-year state budget would increase spending by 8.8%, raise taxes by over $315 million, borrow more than $1 billion for operating expenses, cut $500 million from hospital funding, and “raid” more than $557 million from other dedicated revenue sources.
“Every two years, we have an opportunity to set priorities to show our constituents where we want our state to go in the future,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, this budget is filled with broken promises and it continues to burden our families through additional taxes and borrowing.”
Kelly, now serving his second term, said he was “disappointed with many aspects of the budget offered by the majority party.”
The budget bill passed 19-17 in the state Senate, and previously was approved by the state House of Representatives. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the budget into law.
Malloy is a Democrat, and the Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature by large majorities.
Says exceeds the spending cap
Since 1992, the state budget has been limited by a constitutional spending cap that was put in place by voters following the introduction of the state income tax.
In previous administrations, the spending cap has been temporarily exceeded under emergency circumstances or to spend surplus funds. This year, Kelly said, the budget violates that process by exceeding the cap without a three-fifths vote of the Legislature or the governor’s declaration of an emergency.
“For the past 20 years, the spending cap has served as a powerful check-and-balance on uncontrolled state spending,” he said. “Speaking with people around our district, I heard time and time again, ‘Please don’t break the spending cap.’
“Make no mistake about it, this budget exceeds the spending cap, and the state must respect this important taxpayer protection,” Kelly said.
Taxes and hospital funding cuts
The budget also increases the gas tax, the electric generation tax, the corporate tax surcharge and the insurance premiums tax, according to Kelly.
He said the budget would cut more than $500 million from hospitals around the state, including $27.3 million from St. Vincent’s Hospital, $22.5 million from Bridgeport Hospital and $4.2 million from Griffin Hospital.
“This budget makes significant and sizable cuts to our hospitals,” Kelly said. “I simply cannot support these devastating cuts that will reduce healthcare quality and access, eliminate good paying middle class jobs, and shred the safety net that many in our communities depend upon.”
Dedicated accounts and one-time sources
As for using funds from dedicated accounts and one-time sources, Kelly said the Democratic budget included transferring $109 million from the Special Transportation Fund that is intended to be used solely for transportation purposes, such as road and bridge maintenance.
Kelly represents the 21st Senate District, which includes all of Shelton as well as part of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. Kelly lives in Stratford and is an attorney.