Shelton state Reps. Jason Perillo and Larry Miller joined other House Republicans in voting against the new state budget.
The legislators said the two-year budget bill proposed by Democrats includes a 16% tax increase on gasoline, funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals, and additional “accounting gimmicks” designed to disguise the fact that the level of state spending will shatter a constitutional spending cap.
The budget plan, approved along party lines, includes a shift during the next year of $6 billion in Medicaid spending outside the spending cap to escape a cap-breaching total of $44 billion in spending, according to the legislators.
Perillo and Miller said this shift also circumvented a constitutional law that demands a two-thirds majority vote in the House to exceed the state’s spending cap — a move that Republicans in the House criticized.
Spending increases by 10%
The new budget represents a 10% increase in overall spending, continues to borrow $750 million to pay for the state’s day-to-day operating expenses, and pushes back $400 million of debt payments, which will increase interest payments in the state’s near future.
“This budget continues us down the wrong path,” Perillo said. “With this budget we are doubling down on the bad policies that have caused the poor conditions in Connecticut’s economy to begin with. Spending continues to increase wildly, taxes are higher, and our priorities are backward.
“And now when the constitutional spending cap is too much of a constraint, they just take $6 billion and say it isn’t part of the budget,” he said.
Perillo: ‘Highest tax burden in the nation’
Perillo said the policies favored by the majority Democrats in the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are holding back a true economic recovery in the state.
“Connecticut has the highest tax burden in the nation, unemployment remains consistently high, and we seem to be guaranteeing that we will be the last state to recover from the recession,” he said.
Miller: Doesn’t help business climate
“The theme continues to be sacrifice,” Miller said. “Unfortunately it’s sacrifice on the private sector side to support government.
“Government continues to grow, spending increases, and nothing is being done to reverse the trend of our state being consistently rated as one of the worst to do business in,” he said. “We are perpetuating our economic inadequacy.”
Puts off GAAP, moves transportation funds
The budget also continues to postpone the full implementation of GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), and would move the state’s transportation fund into the General Fund, which Perillo and Miller say will delay the construction and repair of Connecticut’s roads and bridges.
Perillo and Miller supported a number of Republican amendments designed to restore funding to state hospitals, eliminate Medicaid fraud, and implement a 457(k) pension plan for state employees. All the amendments were defeated on a mostly party-line vote.
The budget bill passed after an all-night debate on a party line vote of 95-48. This year’s legislative session adjourns June 5 at midnight.
Perillo represents the 113th District, which includes much of Shelton. He lives in Shelton.
Miller represents the 122nd District, which includes parts of Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull. He lives in Stratford.