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State Rep. Michael Ferguson Op-ed: A Missed Budget Opportunity

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Here we are, October 1st is here, and Governor Malloy has vetoed the only state budget to pass the General Assembly this year. It was two weeks ago since Republican and Democratic members from both the House and Senate joined together to finally give Connecticut a state budget. The governor’s veto now leaves taxpayers, cities and towns and schools no closer to a state budget.

The vetoed bipartisan budget passed by the legislature was a genuine effort to come together. I go back to what the Danbury News-Times wrote last month on their editorial page.

‘Now is the time for young legislators like Ferguson to be bold and not simply follow party lines. Work for a compromise and pass a budget. They can show that true leadership involves representing all voters and doing what is best for them, and the state.’

And work for a compromise we did, and pass a budget, we also did.

Without a state budget the cuts that would come under Governor Malloy’s executive order will be catastrophic. On October 2nd, educational funding to 85 school districts across the state could possibly get completely wiped out, creating total chaos for school districts, educators, parents and children throughout Connecticut. Funds for almost half of the schools in Connecticut would be eliminated. In addition, more than 50 more would be significantly reduced. Funding is instead funneled to cities and towns that already get a significant portion of the municipal aid dollars.

Our state should not be run by an executive order written by one individual without any legislative checks and balances.

No, our bipartisan state budget isn’t perfect and no one is claiming the document is flawless. When confronted with a $5 billion dollar deficit no budget can be perfect. This budget is about compromise and state priorities. We believe it will help to finally provide predictability to our municipalities, state businesses and taxpayers, something they have been crying out several months for.

We’ve increased educational funding by introducing a new ECS formula that takes into account enrollment, poverty, English language learners and wealth. We’ve restored funding for core social service programs aimed at those who need them most. We’ve reopened Care4Kids, fully funded day and evening employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, lowered taxes on retirees, increased funding for Meals on Wheels and the CT Home Care Program.

We need to do something different than what we’ve been doing for so many years. The policies of spending more than our government can afford to budget need to stop. That is why we still face massive deficits after two large tax hikes in six years. This budget looks to change our course as a state, to truly move Connecticut forward because the looming alternative is something we don’t even want to consider.

I urge the remainder of the General Assembly to join us and override the Governor’s veto as soon as possible.