Representatives Laura Hoydick (R-120), Ben McGorty (R-122) and Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21) joined their Republican colleagues in the Senate and House today to share a state budget proposal that closes the current projected state deficit over the next two years without new taxes and without pushing state expenses onto towns, cities or hospitals. The “Confident Connecticut” budget includes increased education funding with a new funding formula, restores money for core social services, and provides for significant structural changes to state government that roll out into the future.
The budget proposal does not include shifting a third of teachers pension costs back onto the municipalities, requires $700 million in union concessions, maintains tax exempt status for hospitals, consolidates state agencies, phases out the income tax on pensions and annuity income, and exempts social security from the income tax for middle income seniors.
“We are making some difficult choices in this proposed budget, but ones that simply have to be made,” said Rep. Hoydick. “It’s clear that constantly going to the well for more taxes the way the majority has for the past six years is part of a failed strategy that has worsened our state’s economic health. This budget sets us on the right path.”
“This budget is a significant departure from the failed direction that the governor and Democrat majority have led us,” said Rep. McGorty. “Our budget does not raise taxes, and it doesn’t pass the burden of failed fiscal management on to cities and towns, or our hospitals across the state. It’s essential for us to finally restore the economic conditions and stability in this state that will make our state what it should be.”
“This proposal also realizes some considerable structural changes to our state government – we need to rethink the current size and shape of state government. This budget does that by consolidating duplicative administrative functions and privatizing specific functions to best protect core services and maximize efficiencies,” said Sen. Kelly.
Creates stability for towns and cities
The “Confident Connecticut” budget rejects a proposal to require municipalities to assume a portion of the costs associated with teachers’ retirement. This will save towns from over $400 million in new financial burdens in year one – a savings that multiplies significantly each year in the future. This budget eliminates the state’s Municipal Revenue Sharing Account program and instead reformulates municipal funding by establishing a new education funding formula and Urban Improvement Grant. Almost all municipalities fare significantly better than under the governor’s proposal. No towns receive less state funding in fiscal year 2018 than enacted in fiscal year 2017. The budget also contains municipal mandate relief to help towns manage their budgets and identify savings for local taxpayers.
Enhances education aid
This budget includes a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding CCJEF and Meskill court decisions, enrollment, poverty and wealth. In addition, this budget dedicates $33.6 million more to education in fiscal year 2018 and $136.6 million more in fiscal year 2019. Once fully implemented, the state will be spending $678.7 million more on education funding under this proposal. In 2018 all towns and cities will either be held harmless or gain more funding for education needs.
This budget rejects a proposal to eliminate the tax exempt status for hospitals, and therefore protects hospitals from being subject to a new local tax. This budget preserves the small hospital pool to protect funding for community hospitals and does not increase the current hospital tax. It also reinstates hospital Payment in Lieu of Taxes to towns and cities.
Protects core services
Budgeting is about priorities. This budget prioritizes core social services for the most vulnerable as well as important health and public safety programs. In order to preserve the safety net of services for the disabled, poor, those with mental health needs, children, the elderly and those in poverty, this budget rejects proposed cuts to many direct services and restores funding for core functions of government. For example, this budget fully funds Meals on Wheels, Care4Kids, day services and employment opportunities for those with developmental disabilities, and mental health and substance abuse grants.
This budget would enact the Republican “Prioritize Progress” transportation funding plan which dedicates $63 billion to transportation needs over 30 years without tolls or new taxes. In addition to the funding plan, this budget includes a plan to make the state’s Special Transportation Fund solvent in future years by dedicating transportation related revenue to the fund and weening the General Fund off of transportation related revenue. Currently, the fund is in danger of being in deficit by fiscal year 2020. This budget resolves that issue for future years.
Implements structural changes
In addition to addressing the deficit over the next two years, this budget includes changes to the structure of government that will roll out into the future to create significant savings for future generations. Recognizing that the state desperately needs to think about the current size and shape of state government, this budget recommends consolidating duplicative administrative functions and privatizing certain functions to best protect core services and enhance efficiencies. In addition, this budget contains an extensive list of policy changes to put the state on a better path in future years.