Klarides Op-Ed: After failed session, the real work begins

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The just concluded regular legislative session that failed to produce a budget was more memorable for what did not happen than what did.

Themis Klarides, sessionThere were many floor discussions and debates, but no votes cast on a host of issues that, had there been definitive action taken would have marked this session as one of the most remarkable in years. The House majority Democrats who ultimately control the agenda gave themselves oratorical platforms from which to express their views: on recreational marijuana, elimination of the electoral college, controversial violent conflicts between police and civilians and electronic tolls, to name a few. Read More →

Klarides: Transportation Lock Box Falls Short of Securing Road Funds

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HARTFORD – Saying the proposed Democratic transportation “lock box” will not secure future road and bridge construction funds, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides charged that the majority party is not serious about dedicating resources to overhaul the state’s infrastructure.

Republicans offered their own tightly constructed lock box proposal that would guarantee that the money is used for only transportation projects, but it was rejected after Democrats resorted to parliamentary maneuvers to rule it out of order .

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House GOP Say Democrats Hypocritical Campaign Financing Bill Won’t Clean Up Broken System

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HARTFORD – House Republicans today slammed Democrats for gaming campaign finance rules to their advantage, and called their chief election bill hypocritical because it does nothing to clean up the system.

“The majority party has systematically mangled the so-called ‘clean election’ laws they so fiercely endorsed for years, and this latest effort does nothing to make both sides play by the same transparent rules,’’ House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said. “This proposal does not represent reform in anyway.’’

Republicans opposed the bill that Democrats said would impose greater reporting standards for donations. Republicans said it would continue to allow unlimited political action committees, PACs, by members. During the last campaign Republicans discovered that Democrats had formed numerous PACs. The individual PACs were used to circumvent campaign laws that limited how much money could be given to candidates and other PACs.

“The same people that called for clean elections have created all these ways to raise more money than they otherwise could and get around the restrictions they claimed to endorse,’’ Klarides said.

The Democratic legislation was passed on a party line vote 79-70 after four hours of debate.

The taxpayer-funded Citizens Election Program was intended to limit how much each candidate for state office could spend. Since it was instituted, the majority party has come up with numerous ways to get around those limits. The CEP was also intended to limit the amount of money lobbyists and special interests could contribute.

Republicans proposed several amendments that constituted real reform today that Democrats rejected on party line votes:

  • Eliminate taxpayer funded grants for unopposed candidates;
  • Limit expenditures by state party organizations to candidates. One Democratic Senate candidate, Ted Kennedy Jr., famously raised more than $200,000 privately, gave the money to the Democratic State Central Party and had that money sent back to support his campaign. He still took the CEP grant.
  • Ban sitting lawmakers from having control of their own PACs.

House GOP Leader Klarides Says SEBAC Deal Not Enough Savings for Taxpayers

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HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today said the proposed concession agreement between Gov. Malloy and state employee union leaders does not go far enough to rein in state spending and added the House and Senate should go on record as either in support or against the plan through a vote in each chamber.

“Committing taxpayers, future governors and the next five legislatures to paying for fringe benefits that are unseen anywhere else but in state government – and a pension system that is collapsing around us as we speak – is unfathomable, ’’ Klarides said. “After months of negotiations, this proposed deal falls short of where we need to be.’’ The deal is based on extending the expiration date of 2022 on the current pension and healthcare programs for five more years.

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House GOP Issue Revised “No-Tax Increase” Budget

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HARTFORD – House Republicans today issued their revised no-tax increase budget for 2018-19 that eliminates the projected $5 billion budget deficit, increases school funding for all towns, reduces the corporate surcharge and mitigates municipal aid losses by reallocating funds.

“This is probably the most challenging budget to put together because revenue projections collapsed in recent weeks. Our goal was to come up with a plan that does not increase any taxes and mitigates the revenue losses to towns and cities and we did just that,’’ House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said.

Every town will see an increase in school funding over current levels. House Republicans relied on significant state employee union concessions and reduced state spending to balance the budget. They also included a wage freeze for state employees, but no layoffs.

Now the hard part comes as Republicans join Democrats and Gov. Malloy at the negotiating table to come up with a final budget plan that can pass both the House and Senate, Klarides said.

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