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The State Budget Breakdown: Latest Update

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As many of you know, the state has been without a budget since July 1, the beginning of the current biennium. The legislature was called into special session yesterday, September 14, to vote on a budget, but nothing happened.

The situation is critical for everyone in Connecticut. So although things are changing from minute to minute, I think it is important to give you a thorough update on what has happened to date and how things stand this afternoon, Friday, September 15.

  • Since July 1, the governor has been running the state by Executive Order. So far, this has been severely affecting community nonprofits and other social services programs. If no budget is passed by October 1, massive cuts to municipalities and school districts will kick in. Knowing that this possibility exists has created enormous uncertainty in every community.
  • During the regular legislative session, which ended on June 7, the governor issued and revised a budget proposal. Majority legislative Democrats did not release a full budget, and still had not done so as of last night. Minority legislative Republicans, however, issued a balanced, line-by-line, no-tax-increase budget in April, and we have continued to update it for the past 140 days, releasing our latest update on September 12. Read it here. We cannot call our budget for a vote ourselves, as only majority leadership can call bills. We have repeatedly requested that our budget be called, but majority leadership has refused.
  • The House and Senate were called into special session yesterday morning to vote on a budget. When we arrived, no budget document was available to read.
  • Around noon, the Finance Committee met to vote on revenue projections based on tax and fee proposals to be included in the still unpublished budget being prepared by legislative Democrats. The only document we were given was a list of more than $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees – no text or explanation. The projections were approved along party lines, by a vote of 26-25. Among the most noteworthy new revenue items:

o    $282 million from shifting responsibility for teachers’ pension contributions from the state to towns

o    $27 million from a new monthly 49-cent tax on consumer cell phone bills

o    $64 million from a new statewide property tax on “seasonal and recreational” homes

  • Throughout the day yesterday, House and Senate members waited for majority legislative Democrats to release their budget document. The Republican budget was public and ready to be called for a vote, but majority leadership refused to call it.
  • At midnight, with no budget documents published, majority Democratic leadership announced that there would be no vote on their budget. There was, apparently, no certainty among their members of enough votes for passage. Majority leaders indicated that no future date was set for a vote. Republican leadership again requested a vote on the Republican budget, to no avail. You can read more about what happened here.
  • At 2:15 am this morning, we were notified that majority leadership was calling the Senate in for a vote today at 2:00 pm, and the House at 5:00 pm. We do not know yet for certain whether either chamber will proceed to a vote. Again, as the minority, we cannot call the Republican budget. But if a bill is called, we will call the Republican budget as an amendment to it, and there will be a vote.
  • At around 8:00 am, we learned that Senate Democrats had posted a 914-page budget bill online. Along with all my colleagues, I will read and absorb as much of it as I can in the little time allotted.

I will end with a couple of comments.

  • Majority Democrats have told their members and the public that legislators have only two choices: vote for the budget they did not publish until early this morning, or allow the governor’s Executive Order to take effect. This is not true: the Republican budget provides a solid alternative.
  • The Republican budget includes no new taxes, protects education funding, and restores and preserves funding for essential services like those for people with intellectual disabilities, the elderly, and the mentally ill. It also includes structural changes to state government that will restore fiscal stability and put the state’s economy on a sustainable path for the long term.
  • The entire budget process has been conducted in a way that is disrespectful to every resident of Connecticut.

My House and Senate Republican colleagues and I have listened and are listening to our constituents, and we will continue to press for a budget that will serve the people of Connecticut well.

This is a critical juncture for our state, and what happens now will affect everyone in Connecticut. Please don’t hesitate to call or write me anytime if you’d like to discuss the state budget, or any other issue, further.