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Fairfield Lawmakers Vote for Compromise Budget that Restores Town Funding

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HARTFORD –State Representatives Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Laura Devlin (R-134) voted to approve a bipartisan budget on Thursday as it passed the House of Representatives with a 126-23 veto-proof margin.

Following State Sen. Tony Hwang’s (R-28) support in the Senate with their passage of the budget bill late Wednesday night, it now heads to the desk of Governor Dan Malloy for signing or potential veto.

The legislature’s budget was a compromise between House and Senate leadership from both parties in the midst of the governor’s executive order, which included sharp funding reduction for town aid, education, and core social services – facts that had local leaders and residents worried about teacher layoffs and supplemental tax bills.

“The SEBAC agreement that passed in July left the legislature with few options to close a multi-billion dollar deficit. The minority could have walked away from budget negotiations after the SEBAC agreement Governor Malloy made and passed along party lines,” said Rep. Kupchick. “However, I believe each and every legislator had a responsibility to do everything possible toward fixing this crisis for the people who rely on us to represent them. We had to make difficult choices faced with the alternative of the governor’s executive order that was devastating important services for many residents and massive cuts for education funding for a majority of towns across the state, including Fairfield.”

Rep. Laura Devlin said, “There are certainly elements of this budget I do not favor – such as the reductions to the energy fund – but that’s what a compromise is about. The bipartisan budget passed last month that was voted by the governor had kept those funds in place – but a compromise is a give and take. What I am pleased about is that there are no income or sales tax hikes, no new taxes on real estate, cell phones or restaurants. Further, we finally have real structural changes that put our state on a new path. This is a beginning – it’s not the full answer, but it gives hope for the future of our state.”

“I am relieved that we finally have a bipartisan budget for Connecticut.  Legislators needed to step up to lead during the state’s fiscal crisis and make difficult but sound choices. We desperately needed to pass a budget to ensure the people of Fairfield and the communities of Connecticut do not suffer irreparable damage,” said Sen. Hwang. “Importantly, this plan does not transfer the state’s responsibility of teacher pension payments onto our local town budgets. It implements long overdue structural changes to how we govern into the future.  Much more needs to be done, but I am excited to begin with this budget as a catalyst toward a better Connecticut.”

Rep. Kupchick added, “This compromise budget restores services and most of Fairfield’s and many municipalities state aid.  Given that we were almost four months into the fiscal year with the governor’s intent to transfer the cost of teacher pensions to municipalities that didn’t include structural changes to Connecticut’s Government; I decided this compromise budget was better than the alternative. This crisis has been years in the making, and we can’t fix it in one budget cycle. While this was a tough vote and doesn’t put our state across the finish line, it cleared some important hurdles.”

Budget highlights include:

  • Enacts the constitutional spending cap that was first approved by voters in 1992
  • Imposes a $1.9 billion cap on bonding, $500 million less than what was bonded last year
  • Protects core social services
  • Imposes a state employee hiring freeze
  • Requires mandatory votes on union contracts by the legislature
  • Provides municipal mandate relief and prevailing wage reform, raising the threshold from $400,000 to $1 million
  • Phases in tax reductions on pensions and social security

The budget also stopped proposals which would have raised taxes on our residents including:

  • No sales tax increase
  • No income tax increase
  • No tax on cell phones
  • No restaurant tax
  • No business tax increase
  • Shifts teachers pensions on to municipalities
  • No tolls

The plan passed the Senate 33-3 Wednesday evening and by 126-23 in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The budget vote margins are enough to override a possible veto by the governor.

For a full view of the state budget go to : www.cthousegop.com/budget