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Rep. Lavielle Critical of Governor’s Budget Proposals that Lead with Taxes on Seniors and the Middle Class

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HARTFORD –State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) 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. Lavielle 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.

“Floating budget proposals that fly in the face of bipartisan legislation that the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed after a solid year of uncertainty and debate is disrespectful to Connecticut residents,” said Rep. Lavielle. “It has become clear to people across the state that steadily raising taxes has not led to steadily higher revenue and that Connecticut’s tax base is actually shrinking. Constant reliance on new revenue to balance the budget is hurting the state’s economy, and this week’s proposals are particularly harmful to seniors and the middle class.”

Among the governor’s proposals are:

  • Eliminating the property tax credit for seniors and taxpayers with dependents
  • Eliminating new tax breaks on Social Security and pension income
  • Cutting funding to the Medicare savings program that was just restored by the legislature over his veto
  • Imposing a sales tax on non-prescription drugs
  • Increasing the gasoline tax
  • A new tax on tires
  • Installing tolls on Connecticut’s highways
  • Increasing the real estate conveyance tax
  • Cuts to municipal aid
  • Rejecting the new education cost sharing (ECS) formula and eliminating all ECS funding for 33 towns

“Connecticut residents are not fooled by the governor’s lack of acknowledgment that the state’s levels of spending are unsustainable,” said Rep. Lavielle. “I hope that my colleagues in the legislature will all remember that the number one issue affecting Connecticut right now is the state’s financial condition and restoring our economy. We must stay focused on our job as the advocates of taxpayers and all residents.”

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. Lavielle expressed her 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.

Rep Lavielle: Reviving Connecticut’s Economy: Legislature Enlists Top Private Sector Expertise

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The 2018 legislative session will open on February 7. While the legislature’s priority is dealing with the current $245 million deficit, it is a symptom, not a cause, of the long list of serious financial problems that are sustaining Connecticut’s persistent fiscal crisis: ballooning retirement-related liabilities, growing debt service, high overhead costs, punitive taxes, and a shrinking tax base, among others. Funding for programs and services for the needy, transportation, schools, and towns is constantly in jeopardy. So although the legislature’s primary focus during the session will clearly be on the current budget, I hope that it will be on addressing the serious underlying structural issues as well.

Before the session gets underway, I want to share with you a document that will likely be part of the backdrop for debate. If you are interested in the state’s many financial and economic issues, it may provide helpful context for you.

The document is a presentation entitled “Remarks on Economic Growth”. Prepared by Jim Loree, President and CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, it is a product of the work currently being done by the state Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, which was created by a provision in the budget bill passed last year. Unlike many commissions formed by the legislature, it does not include any elected officials currently in office. Instead, most of its members are top executives of major corporations, professional firms, and nonprofits. It has been meeting since December, and must deliver to the legislature by March 1 a report including recommendations on what the state should do to resolve its fiscal crisis and restore its economy.

Prepared by people who bring the objectivity of working outside state government, the presentation leaves no room for doubt about the gravity of Connecticut’s financial problems. At the same time, it recognizes that restoring the state’s economy requires not only rationalizing and reduction of spending, but also growth of the tax base, and it proposes a number of avenues for action.

I will wait to form a point of view on the courses of actions that this preliminary presentation begins to suggest until we receive the final report. But meanwhile, I wanted to share it with you, to give you a clear idea of many of the issues the legislature may be discussing. Even more important, I am very interested in hearing any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may want to share with me in return.

Click here to read Jim Loree’s presentation, “Remarks on Economic Growth”.

During the upcoming session, I will be actively involved in the discussions surrounding tax policy, education, transportation, and economic growth, so it is very important to me to know what matters to you in these areas. Please call or send me an email if you would like to discuss any of these issues. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Reps. Lavielle and O’Dea, Sen. Boucher, Discuss State Issues with Constituents at a Town Hall Forum in Wilton

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 WILTON  State Representatives Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Tom O’Dea (R-125) listened to the questions and concerns of constituents in Wilton at a town hall meeting they hosted on Monday night alongside their Senate colleague, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26).

The legislators engaged in a productive discussion at the Wilton Library with area residents seeking to hear from their elected officials before the legislative “short session” begins on February 7th, amidst persisting budget issues and concerns about transportation funding.

The representatives answered dozens of questions over the course of the hour and a half event about a range of topics.

Connecticut’s economy and volatile fiscal situation were of particular concern for Wilton residents, with attendees worried about how Connecticut’s unfunded liabilities and budget deficits will affect their property taxes.  Other questions covered education funding, the SEBAC union contract, health insurance, and how to make Connecticut more attractive to businesses.

“People, towns, and businesses are clearly feeling the full force of the uncertainties about taxes, services, transportation, and the local economy that are caused by the state’s persistent fiscal crisis,” said Rep. Lavielle. “It is clear that the legislature must act urgently to address Connecticut’s unsustainable pension and benefits liabilities and eliminate wasteful spending, while finding ways to expand the state’s tax base. Doing both at the same time is challenging, but necessary to restore Connecticut’s economy and to protect its quality of life. I am glad that we had a strong turnout at the Monday town hall, because it’s important for people to understand the state’s fiscal realities. I hope that my constituents will continue to use my office as a resource for answers to any questions they have about state government.”

 

Anyone who was unable to attend the event but would like to speak with Reps. Lavielle and O’Dea can reach them any time at their email addresses, respectively, gail.lavielle@cga.ct.gov and tom.odea@housegop.ct.gov or by calling 800-842-1423. Sen. Boucher can be reached by email at toni.boucher@cga.ct.gov or by calling 800-842-1421.

Reps. Lavielle and O’Dea, Sen. Boucher Holding Town Hall in Wilton on January 29th

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WILTON State Reps. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Tom O’Dea (R-125) along with State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) invite their constituents to attend a town hall event at the Wilton Library in the Brubeck Room. The forum will be held on Monday, January 29th, from 6pm until 7:30pm.

The legislators will offer Wilton residents an update on legislative activity in Hartford, answer their questions on state issues, and listen to their concerns about the community.

 

Anyone who is unable to attend but would still like to speak with them may contact Rep. Lavielle at Gail.Lavielle@cga.ct.gov, Rep. O’Dea at Tom.Odea@housegop.ct.gov, and Sen. Boucher at Toni.Boucher@cga.ct.gov.

Reps. Lavielle, Wilms and Wood Hosting Coffee and Conversation in Norwalk on Friday, January 26th

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NORWALK – Norwalk’s Republican State House delegation of Representatives Gail Lavielle (R-143), Fred Wilms (R-142), and Terrie Wood (R-141) are inviting their constituents to attend office hours with them on the morning of Friday, January 26th at the Norwalk Inn on East Ave. They will meet with any interested constituents for coffee and conversation from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.

This is an opportunity for constituents to meet with their state representatives and speak with them about the upcoming legislative session, the recently-adopted state budget, upcoming legislation, and other issues they would like to hear addressed.

 

Anyone who is unable to attend but would still like to speak to Reps. Lavielle, Wilms, or Wood may contact them by calling 800-842-1423 or by email at Gail.Lavielle@housegop.ct.gov, Fred.Wilms@housegop.ct.gov, and Terrie.Wood@housegop.ct.gov .