HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) voiced sharp criticism of the series of tax increases and new fees proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy in his guidelines for revisions to the 2018-2019 budget. The governor detailed his budget proposal early this week before delivering his final State of the State address on Wednesday to a joint session of the legislature.
Rep. Frey noted the conspicuous absence in the governor’s speech of any reference to Connecticut’s struggling economy or its $245 million budget deficit for the current year, as he called for new spending programs such as free community college.
“It should not come as a shock to anyone in Ridgefield or across Connecticut that our state is in a permanent fiscal crisis as a result of several years of awful budgets, yet last week the governor had the audacity to completely ignore the economy as well as our persistent deficits and instead focus on partisan rhetoric that made his State of the State sound more like an audition tape for a career as a cable news pundit,” said Rep. Frey. “Connecticut’s failing economy is the most critical issue affecting people in this state, so it’s hard to believe the governor is being serious with a budget proposal that relies on a medley of tax hikes, fee increases, and assumed revenue from installing tolls throughout the states.”
Among the governor’s proposals are: installing tolls on Connecticut’s highways; eliminating the property tax credit for seniors and taxpayers with dependents; eliminating tax breaks on Social Security and pension income; increasing the real estate conveyance tax; increasing the gas, hotel, and restaurant taxes; a new tax on tires; cuts to municipal aid, rejecting the new Education Cost Sharing formula that provides aid to schools based on need, population, poverty and other factors; and eliminating ECS funding for 33 towns, including Ridgefield.
“Both the budget proposal and address are tone deaf to the political and economic realities of Hartford right now – it was clear Governor Malloy is pretending last year’s long budget impasse that resulted in a bipartisan compromise budget did not happen,” said Rep. Frey. “The compromise budget was novel in that it restored funding for core government services and local education by achieving savings with structural changes to state government. The governor’s proposal wants to take us back to the days when the only solution to budget deficits was to find new ways to tax people while cutting funding for government services people rely on.”
Rep. Frey emphasized the affect the governor’s proposals would have on seniors, noting, “Seniors, in particular, are a target, because they would be forced to pay more in taxes on Social Security, lose several deductions, and still lose access to services like the Medicare Savings Program. The governor wants you to pay more for less.”
Referring to the 2017 session when Governor Malloy’s most controversial proposals – like shifting the cost of teacher pensions onto municipalities – were rejected by the legislature, Rep. Frey expressed his hope that legislators would work together to produce bipartisan alternatives to the governor’s proposal that do not rely on tax and fee increases and that protect local education funding over the course of this year’s “short session”, which ends on May 9.
“Last year, most of the legislature was adamant in its opposition to many of the governor’s proposals – like shifting teacher pension costs onto municipalities. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan solution again this year. We need to make Connecticut more affordable to live in,” said Rep. Frey.