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Rep. Lavielle Votes for Compromise Budget that Restores Education Funding

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HARTFORD – State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) voted to approve a bipartisan budget on Thursday as it passed the House of Representatives with a 126-23 veto-proof margin.  Following the Senate’s 33-3 passage of the budget bill, it now awaits action by Governor Dannel Malloy.

The legislature’s budget was a compromise between House and Senate leadership from both parties that contrasts sharply with the governor’s executive order, currently in effect, which includes dramatic funding cuts for town aid, education, and core social services – facts that have had local leaders and residents worried about teacher layoffs and supplemental tax bills.

“This budget was the best alternative to both the governor’s executive order – which decimated local education funding – and a compromise budget between the governor and majority Democrats – which would likely have contained several major tax increases and still shifted teacher pension costs onto towns,” said Rep. Lavielle.  “The delay in the budget process was unacceptable, and towns across the state were suffering from the cuts in the governor’s executive order, which exposed many of them to downgrades in their bond ratings. Taking decisive action was the responsible thing to do.  While the compromise budget contains serious shortcomings that fall short of our goals, it also provides important structural reforms and does not force property taxpayers to bear the cost of years of irresponsible fiscal policies.”

When majority legislators in the General Assembly approved the governor’s SEBAC union contract in July, it limited the ability of the state to close its $5 billion budget deficit by trimming its bureaucracy and controlling pension costs.  However, Rep. Lavielle pointed to numerous structural reforms within the compromise budget that were retained from a Republican budget bill that passed last month.  These include a bonding cap, a rigorous spending cap, a mandatory vote on all union contracts, and municipal mandate relief reforms that will allow towns to save on construction and labor costs.  It also rejects several tax increases proposed by majority Democrats and the governor in previous budget proposals.

“Given how dire our situation seemed over the summer as the state languished without a budget and the majority party’s approval of the union agreement which dramatically limited our budget options, a more harmful state budget filled with tax increases seemed to be the most likely outcome,” said Rep. Lavielle.  “Instead, House Republicans were able to stop most of the tax increases and achieve many structural reforms that we have advocated for decades, like implementing the constitutional spending cap, mandatory votes on union contracts, mandate relief, and tax relief for retirees. Significantly, this budget does all of that while maintaining funding for local school districts and core government services.”

Rep. Lavielle concluded by calling the passage of the compromise budget “the best option we had,” saying, “Majority Democrats put the state in an unfortunate fiscal bind by passing the SEBAC union agreement.  As legislators, however, we have a responsibility to get to work and be a part of the solution rather than stand back and watch the state decline.  We still have a lot of work to do, but this budget will begin the process of setting the state on a more responsible fiscal path when it becomes law.”

While the governor must make his decision this week on whether to sign or veto the budget bill, the vote count in both chambers indicates a high likelihood that the legislature would override a veto.