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Rep. Frey Welcomes Bipartisan Passage of State Budget

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Urges Governor to Sign Budget Bill into Law “as Soon as Possible”

HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) expressed cautious optimism at the passage of the Republican budget through both chambers of the General Assembly early Saturday morning.

It was a historic day after three Democratic State Senators broke ranks and voted for a Republican budget amendment which passed the Senate earlier that afternoon by a 21-15 vote, and the House passed the same Republican budget bill afterward by a vote of 77-73 with five Democrats in favor. It now continues on its path to becoming law, although it is possible he will use the governor will use his veto power and block prevent that.

This budget closes the state’s $3.5 billion deficit without raising taxes or transferring the responsibility for teachers’ pensions to towns, preserves funding for school districts and municipalities, invests in transportation, and protects critical services like those for the intellectually disabled and the elderly. It also contains many structural changes, including consolidating government departments, reducing state employee overtime, restricting state borrowing, and implementing the constitutional spending cap.

“Connecticut just turned a page – it really cannot be overstated how unprecedented last week’s budget votes in the legislature were, or the significance this will have on the future of our state,” said Rep. Frey.  “For years now, I have insisted that our state cannot continue to raise taxes and increase spending and also expect to stop the persistent deficit cycle, grow the economy, and fully fund core government services.  Last week made it clear that now a majority of legislators representing both sides of the aisle came around and begun to realize that this state needs new fiscal policies that force Connecticut to live within its means in order to turn the economy around. I think families and businesses across the state can take heart in witnessing this seismic shift in Connecticut’s political landscape which should inspire hope that prosperity could be more achievable than many of us thought.”

Rep. Frey noted the legislature’s budget does not transfer the teacher pension costs onto towns, and also restores Ridgefield’s education funding back to current levels. “If this budget were to become law, towns would not have to raise property taxes on homeowners in order to cover costs imposed by the state, which would be a huge relief for our already-overtaxed residents.”

After the Republican budget passed the State Senate, Governor Malloy declared his intention to veto the budget bill passed by the General Assembly.  Rep. Frey urged the governor to reconsider, citing the “draconian” effects his executive order could have on local education and other state services.

“Our Democratic colleagues courageously put the wellbeing of Connecticut before party, and that is important to acknowledge, since it means that no matter what the governor decides to do there is bipartisan support in the legislature for securing a brighter future for our state,” said Rep. Frey. “If the governor decides to veto this budget, he would be obstructing a bipartisan budget that respects the will of the people and stubbornly standing in the way of progress for Connecticut. In any case, my colleagues and I will not be deterred.”

Rep. Frey: Adrift Four Weeks Without a Budget

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July 31, 2017

Adrift

To the Editor,

As of writing, the State of Connecticut is now four weeks without a budget for the next biennium after the closing of the fiscal year on June 30th – a situation so unprecedented that chaos and aimlessness of this magnitude has not been seen in recent state history.

What makes our current predicament so unprecedented is not just the fact that a budget has not been signed into law, but also the circumstances surrounding this year’s budget stalemate and the shocking abandonment of duty by the party that has held a majority in the House for 30 straight years. Having experienced many difficult years in Hartford, I’ve made some observations on how this year is unique.

For one, Connecticut remains mired in a historic and seemingly permanent fiscal crisis as a result of misguided budgets over the past few decades – this is no longer news to most people. Our cycle is to spend money we don’t have, raise taxes to cover the difference, and then suffer the consequences of taxpayers leaving for more tax-friendly states.  Now, Connecticut’s economic recovery lags painfully behind the rest of the country, while major companies announcing their departures from the state have become all too common.

Voters across the state began to realize how years of bad budgets have hurt their family finances, their children’s education, and their businesses, which is why there is more partisan parity in the legislature this year than in the past. A razor-thin House majority makes it more difficult for the majority party to push through legislation, which is why concerning bills like the toll bill could not pass.  It also puts pressure on certain Democrats who campaign on being fiscally responsible moderates and are wary of allowing a budget that increases taxes.

Another notable development is how closely families and businesses across the state are tuned into the intricacies of a budget process normally followed only by Hartford insiders. Because of the severe and direct impact of the state budget crisis on Connecticut families, I regularly speak to constituents who express fear and anger over the legislature’s failure to do its job of passing a budget.  Passing a budget that can turn the state around affects people’s livelihoods and so it befits them to become well-versed in the process.

I can tell you the majority leadership’s dramatic abandonment of their duty to pass a budget has never been seen before. Even though I have long supported the fully-vetted, no-tax increase, balanced budget proposal submitted by House Republicans, only the majority party may call votes on the floor of the House, which limits our influence to pass a budget.  That power resides with the House Speaker, who thus far has steadfastly refused to call our budget or even discuss it on the floor of the House, in spite of the majority party’s failure to produce their own budget at multiple deadlines.

Significantly, never in recent memory has the state been without a budget because of the Speaker’s refusal to call a vote on a budget. While previous budget crises have resulted from various governors vetoing budgets passed by the legislature, four weeks into this fiscal year the legislature has not even discussed the issue.

With those unprecedented conditions, it makes it even more heartbreaking to read reports of how the state budget crisis has hurt local communities. Towns are scrambling to make up for shortfalls in their own budgets left by the withholding of expected municipal aid.  Road repair services were cancelled, major capital purchases are being put off, and at least one Connecticut community will be forced to delay the first day of school.

This passive choice to drift aimlessly in the midst of ugly budget cuts that have real-time consequences on people’s lives and business prospects is unconscionable. That’s why I have joined the House Republicans in using every legislative maneuver we are aware of to try and force a vote on a budget that will get us back on track.  Thus far, our efforts have been rebuffed by the majority party – even the so-called “moderates” have ignored our proposals and blocked them from receiving a vote.

Taxpayer advocates in the legislature have been iced out of the process in favor of those who cater to union interests.

Right now, we are adrift in an economic storm without a budget, without a direction, and without a will to succeed or accept new ideas. Something has to change.

State Rep. John Frey represents the 111th Assembly district in Ridgefield.  He is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Bonding Subcommittee.

 

Rep. Frey Criticizes Governor’s Veto of Affordable Housing Reform Bill

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Calls for Legislature to Override Veto

HARTFORD – State Rep. John Frey (R-111) panned Governor Malloy’s decision to veto the bipartisan 8-30g affordable housing compromise bill, HB 6880 after the announcement was made on Friday.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Frey, was a modest step towards affordable housing reform which hoped to offer towns an attainable goal of developing and reaching a moratorium to achieve greater control over developments. It received 116 votes (77%) in the House and 30 votes (83%) in the State Senate.

“I consider this an outrageous move by the governor,” said Rep. Frey. “The bill he just vetoed was the product of bipartisan discussion and mutual compromise, and it took hard work to pass the House and Senate as broadly as it did. If the governor won’t accept the careful and prudent ideas in HB 6880 to provide fairness and contemporary changes to the 8-30g statute, then he has truly given up trying to help municipalities. I’m really not sure what else we can do to get his attention about how serious of a problem this is.”

Under the current 8-30g statue, towns like Ridgefield had very little chance of ever achieving the high bar for a moratorium that allowed predatory developers to sidestep local zoning laws.

In spite of this setback, Rep. Frey noted that the bill passed with enough support to potentially override the governor’s veto. Each year the legislature has a veto session to consider whether to override vetoes by the governor. An override requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber (House & Senate) which would mean the House of Representatives would need 101 votes and the Senate would need 24 votes.

“I will not be deterred on this issue. I urge the legislature to override the governor’s veto and get this bill passed so the voices of Ridgefield residents and concerned citizens across the state will be heard. We can still do the right thing here,” Rep. Frey added.

Reps. Frey and Ferguson Urge Action on Resolving State Budget Crisis

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Encourage Democratic Colleagues to Consider Republican Proposal

HARTFORD State Representatives John Frey (R-111) and Michael Ferguson (R-138) have joined the House Republican caucus in calling for an up-or-down vote Thursday in the House on the balanced, no-tax increase budget proposed by Republicans – the third version produced by the caucus – noting the Democrats failed to produce a single complete proposal.

“Never before in recent history has the legislature failed to adopt a budget before the end of the fiscal year without even voting on one – and it’s certainly the first time the majority party simply neglected to even produce one,” said Rep. Frey. “The single most important issue the legislature had to address this year was fixing the mess that has been made of the state budget, but as a result of the pathetic leadership vacuum that exists in Hartford we may not even have a chance to debate the budget. I think Democrats should be ashamed of themselves if we can’t even discuss our ideas in the House on Thursday.”

“Leadership failure of this magnitude would never be accepted in a private-sector job,” said Rep. Ferguson.  “Families and businesses in Connecticut are struggling in this economic climate and they deserve immediate action on resolving the crux of the issue, which is the state budget.  I am worried for the near future of many people and institutions in this state if nothing is done.”

Legislative Republicans proposed a full balanced budget this spring and then revised that proposal last month to account for a dramatic drop in revenue receipts. Democrats did not even produce a plan by the time the legislative committees reached their deadlines later in the spring and still refuse to call the Republican budget for a vote.  If no budget is passed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, the governor will run the state on a series of continuing resolutions.

Frey and Ferguson each considered this prospect distressing and warned that a prolonged budget struggle will result in huge problems for towns and cities that count on state revenue to help run local government. Those most at risk and in need of social services will also be affected.

“Running the state without a budget in place is not an acceptable back-up plan for the legislature,” said Rep. Frey.  “It’s important to point out that if Republicans were in charge, we would have passed a balanced budget that does not contain any tax increases.  We worked hard to produce three versions of a budget proposal to accommodate the revenue shortfall this year.  The alternative is the governor’s proposal, which even members of his own party called ‘draconian.’  Legislative Democrats have not even come up with a full budget package.  Why won’t Democrats rise to the occasion and even put our proposal up for a vote?  You’ll have to ask them.”

“The prospect of the governor running the state almost unilaterally paints a disturbing picture for core services like education and hospitals, as well as the people who rely on them,” said Rep. Ferguson.  “These institutions need to be protected and they are severely threatened by budget uncertainties.  I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will consider this and give the House Republicans’ balanced budget considerable thought as good steps forward for this state.  The people deserve a government that takes meaningful and decisive action.”

Rep. Frey Welcomes State Champion Ridgefield Hockey Team to Capitol

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HARTFORD State Representatives John Frey (R-111) and Michael Ferguson (R-138) joined State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) in welcoming the 2017 State Champion Ridgefield High School Ice Hockey team to the State Capitol in Hartford. The Ridgefield delegation proudly introduced the Tigers players to their colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives. Later, they presented them with a state citation in honor of their triumphant 6-2 win over Northwest Catholic in the Division I State Championship game – the first in program history for Tigers hockey.

“Let’s give these guys and their coach Shaun Gallagher a round of applause,” said Rep. Frey on the floor of the House. “It wasn’t just luck for Ridgefield. The talent, effort, and dedication from these players was extraordinary by any standard. This team culture is exemplified not just in the remarkable skill of Jack Stafford, who received all-FCIAC second team honors, or his peers Matteo Van Wees, Harrison Chuma, and Sean Keegans, who each received all-state and all-FCIAC honors. This team culture is also visible in the admirable team loyalty of Ryan Stewart, whose injury stopped him from playing yet who stayed throughout the season to manage the team, and Gordon Santiago, who served as team photographer.”

“This is a proud moment for the Town of Ridgefield. I am genuinely impressed with this group as hockey players, as teammates, as students, and as well-rounded young men. Among this talented group are honors students and many who have won awards for their participation in theater and mock trial. I look forward to the contributions they will make as hockey players, students, and citizens,” added Rep. Frey.