As the clock ticked out the final hours of the 2016 legislative session, State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Ben McGorty (R-122) said the inability of the majority Democrats to pass a budget on time exposed their eleventh-hour agreement with Governor Dannel Malloy as containing no structural changes, while it ensures future deficits and slashes vital programs to the poor, mentally ill, and education funding.
The plan contains deep spending cuts to critical areas, like addiction services, in the midst of an opioid epidemic. It cuts $36 million in local school funding and special education, as well as $13 million for hospitals.
“The entire budget process this year has been simply shameful and dysfunctional,” said Rep. Perillo. “The economic policies of this administration and their willing accomplices in the legislature have deeply damaged our tax base. I get the distinct feeling that they don’t even realize it. But because of this, we are experiencing diminishing returns, and deficit after deficit. Now, on the last day, they unveil yet another unworkable and inadequate budget without time for it to be reviewed or understood. With so much at stake, this kind of governing doesn’t respect the process, or the people we are elected to serve.”
“I’m not convinced that what was was unveiled today is anything more than another proposed disaster for the state,” said Rep. McGorty. “This was the fourth budget we have been given by their side in the last 11 months, and they are still stubbornly refusing to make necessary structural changes, so I don’t see why this one won’t quickly fall out of balance like the others. But we will have some more time to review this new budget before our special session, possibly as early as next week.”
Perillo and McGorty stood with legislative Republicans last month as they put forth their own balanced budget that does not raise taxes, does not use the Rainy Day Fund and makes measured cuts that do not punish the most at risk, such as the poor and elderly. The plan also included a comprehensive five-year strategic plan that reduces spending and achieves savings that will result in actual surpluses.
Other aspects of the Democrats’ newest budget on the spending side feature:
- A $17 million cut from local pilot programs.
- Earmarking of ECS payments for towns represented by Democratic leaders totaling $1.1 million – Stonington, Hamden, Madison, New Britain and Farmington.
- $8.7 million in cuts from mental health and substance abuse programs.
- $2.2 million in cuts from assistance for the poor.
- Elimination of all state funding for school transportation.
As bad as that is, Perillo and McGorty said the worst part of it is the revenue assumptions. The Democrats project that the state will receive an additional $15 million in slot revenue, despite steady decreases in recent years, and a $4.5 million boost from Keno which is currently not even up and running yet.
· The budget includes $68.6 million in assumed mystery “savings’’ that if not achieved as in previous budgets, will lead directly to deficits.
· It “saves’’ $3.3 million by moving items into the Insurance Fund that are paid for by the state insurance industry.
· There are no provisions to force the legislature to approval union contracts.
· There are no defined paths to create a workable spending cap or a reduced bonding cap.
· No overtime accountability and no municipal mandate relief.