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Supporting Veterans’ Mental Health Awareness

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In support of Veterans’ mental health awareness, the VFW Post 3272 in Avon is hosting a film screening on Saturday, October 21st of the documentary, “Thank You For Your Service,” which reveals the failed mental health policies that are currently in place in our country.  A panel discussion will follow the screening, facilitated by Resilience Grows Here.


Funds raised from this event will go to the VFW to provide aid to veterans in our community and toward future events to raise awareness.

View the event page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/116448295698557/

Tickets may be purchased at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance online, on the EventBrite page here.

Bipartisan Budget: Myths vs. Facts

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Does the budget decimate UConn/UConn Health Center?

The Republican budget passed with bipartisan support by the legislature provides $1 billion in state aid to UConn and UConn Health Center over two years. This is a $200.1 million reduction to the anticipated $1.2 billion in state aid UConn would have received had the university not been touched by any budget cuts. While this is a cut of approximately 17%, this budget also for the first time allows for purchasing and contracting flexibility so the university can save money and enhance revenues in other ways that do not rely on taxpayer dollars.

There are policy changes that will allow in direct savings for UConn; like requiring professors to teach one additional class and eliminating the tuition waivers that allow UConn and UCHC employees and their dependents to attend UConn for free. Yes there are cuts to UConn, like every other agency. The difference between other state agencies and our flagship university to raise revenue or trim costs are substantial. UConn has alternative ways to support their organization through the school’s Foundation and fundraising or additional federal grants for research. While we have supported large investments over the years, we simply cannot afford it until our state is back on course. UConn still has an extremely healthy budget and now even greater flexibility to attain funding in ways that do not overly burden taxpayers. All of those avenues should be explored fully and pursued.

It’s also important to note that UConn is overstating it’s reductions by using the fiscal year 2017 original budget as the base, rather than what they actually received in 2017. It is only fair to compare the actual dollars taxpayers invested last year.

Does this budget change hospital taxes?

The budget proposed by Republicans and passed with a bipartisan vote in the legislature does not allow municipalities to tax local hospitals and preserves the small hospital pool. It also accepts the hospital settlement agreed to by the Connecticut Hospital Association and the governor’s office which includes tax changes our state hospitals lobbied for and meets all their requests to help them operate more efficiently and better meet the needs of their patients. This budget will also phase out the hospital tax over time and increases Medicaid rates which protect hospitals from changes on the federal level.

What does it do to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

The Republican budget that garnered bipartisan support in the legislature would implement a graduated schedule for the Earned Income Tax Credit which provides 5% for single individuals, 10% for those with one child, 15% for those with two children, 25% for those with three or more children. By implementing a graduated scale we can make sure to preserve as much of the credit as possible for those who need the support most. Unfortunately facing a massive deficit of historic size we had to make the difficult decision to reduce this program in part to protect other core social services including SAGA. In addition, there are some who say a case could be made that it is not actually a tax cut, as over 80% of recipients never paid state income tax. Regardless on your opinions about the program–we prioritize children in the graduated scale model we worked hard to define.

Does this budget better serve the I/DD Community?

It is the only budget to fully fund day and employment services for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. It also does not carry forward reductions imposed by Governor Malloy to employment and day opportunities services for the intellectually disabled. In addition it adds funding to help individuals on the wait list access services.

Is this budget balanced?

Yes, OFA shows surpluses of $70 million surplus in 2018 and $40 million surplus in 2019.

How do we balance the budget?

– We rein in government as much as we can. We consolidate agencies and eliminate top heavy positions like Commissioners and their deputies.

– We make targeted spending cuts while simultaneously protecting core services.

– We implement 10% reductions to certain agency accounts.

– We implement overtime savings of 10 percent, a hiring freeze of non-24-hour employees, and cut the legislature’s budget.

– We include long-needed structural changes to achieve future savings such as a strong spending cap and bonding cap. The Democrat budget included a spending cap which recommends not counting our growing pension debt.

Why does OFA show a deficit in the out years?

All budgets proposed show deficit in the out years because the state’s financial problems cannot be resolved in one year. That being said, the Republican out year deficits are less than what was projected in the Democrats’ budget which includes many new tax policies like cell phones and non-prescription medicine (for example, in FY20 the Republican budget shows $1.2 billion deficit while the Democrat budget shows $1.4 billion deficit. In 2021, Republican budget shows $2 billion deficit while Democrat budget shows $2.1 billion deficit.) However, unlike the Democrat budget, the Republican budget also includes tax reductions to pension income, social security income, and inheritance/estate tax. We have heard our retirees and seniors loud and clear! They want to stay here and we want them here, too. These tax reductions contribute to the deficit on the surface because we are taking in less revenue, but they are likely to actually lower the deficit once implemented by sparking economic growth. In addition, the Republican budget contains a strict spending cap (as voted for nearly 25 years ago, but never enacted) and other long term structural changes to achieve future savings, restore confidence in our state, and therefore have a positive effect on the economy that cannot be calculated by OFA in the projections they show.

Does this budget change taxpayer funding for campaigns?

This budget eliminates taxpayer funding for political campaigns under the “Citizens Election Program” (CEP). The state cannot keep up with managing funds for this program that is a mere shadow of the original program meant to keep elections clean. In an extremely challenging budget year, this budget makes the decision to end taxpayer funding for political candidates – an expense which is expected to balloon to $50 million for the next election cycle with no additional money to be found in escheats which has previously funded the program. Democrats have actually underfunded this program in their own budget proposal by $10 million also putting the program in jeopardy because the state simply does not have the funds to support what this program has grown into.

Does this budget change teacher pension contributions?

This is not a tax on teachers. This budget does increase contributions teachers’ pay towards their own retirement from 6% to 8% at maximum, which remains below the national average of over 10% for teacher contributions. It was important in this budget to minimize the increase while also stabilizing this fund so the state can keep the promises it makes to our teachers who dedicate their lives to serving our state and its students. This is an increase that teachers pay into their own pensions; therefore it is all money that every single teacher gets back when they retire as it is part of their retirement savings. This is money that will be used to make the teachers’ pension plan more solvent and benefit teachers in the long run. In addition, this budget does not shift any teacher retirement costs onto towns and cities. Shifting any portion of this opens the door to more burdens being placed on municipalities and taxpayers. This is the state’s responsibility and we stood firm on not letting the state push off any amount of this obligation onto our cities and towns.

To make sure that the intentions behind the legislation adopted by the General Assembly are crystal clear, since partisan folks are distorting those intentions— the leadership of the Republican caucuses will put a request in writing immediately to the Teacher’s Retirement Board (TRB). While normally the TRB sets the state contribution amount every two years, this is too important to wait for the normal process. The money will be held in the General Fund UNTIL the TRB sets the amount as required.

Our intentions are crystal clear. This money will be deposited to the teacher’s pension fund, as was explained during the budget debate. Period.

Here is a link to the Teacher’s Retirement Systems latest evaluation: http://www.ct.gov/trb/lib/trb/forms…

THREE CHOICES FOR TEACHERS

  • Support the bipartisan budget that gradually increases the pension contributions for teachers 2%, while also keeping the income tax exemption of 50% promised in the last session. This budget also promises level funding for every school district.
  • Support the Democrats proposed budget that passes a significant portion of the teacher’s pension payments to local taxpayers and municipalities. This mandate will force towns to consider laying off teachers or programs and their education funding cuts many communities. It also fails to keep the promise to exempt 50% of their income tax, dropping it down to 25% retroactively to January 1st 2017.
  • Support the Governor’s Executive Order which slashed education funding by almost $600 million and passes the burden of the teacher’s pension fund onto taxpayers.

LeGeyt, Witkos Blast Malloy for Canton, Avon Education Funding Hit

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HARTFORD —State Representative Tim LeGeyt (R-17) and State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) blasted Governor Malloy for his announcement last Friday that he would slash education funding to 139 municipalities across the state including Canton and Avon. Under the governor’s new plan, both Canton and Avon would lose all of their Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding for FY 18 – a whopping $4.13 million hit.

Rep. LeGeyt today stated, “Last week, we saw the governor state his agenda and priorities in an executive order that slashes education funding across our state, including Canton and Avon. House Republicans have offered three fully vetted budgets during the legislative session that would have increased education funding to all cities and towns, maintained funding for critical programs to those most in need, and not raised taxes on our citizens. The Democrat-led majority has shirked its legislative responsibility by not producing a budget, and now the governor has instilled general panic among the education community, just as our students prepare to begin their first day of school. It is disheartening and downright shameful that legislative Democrats are playing party over people, and in this case, the education of our children. What’s even more disingenuous is the bait and switch tactic that awaits taxpayers, as Democrats have promised to raise taxes in any proposal they put forth.”

Sen. Witkos said, “It is beyond devastating and enraging to see this plan from the governor. Under his executive order every single town I represent would lose significant funding. It would hit municipalities big and small, urban and rural. On top of the pain, the order also appears to violate state law. What’s so frustrating is that our state should have never gotten to this point. Legislative Republicans have proposed multiple budgets throughout the year that would have protected our towns, cities and schools. Senate Republicans also proposed a new education funding formula that took into consideration the recent court ruling that requires the state to adopt a real formula to fairly distribute money to schools. Our plan would have increased ECS dollars and distributed funding to towns based on factors including need, poverty, wealth, population growth and decline, and number of English language learners. Unfortunately, all of these efforts were denied a vote in the legislature by Democrat legislative leaders who are the only ones able to call a vote during special session. Instead of focusing on the budget, Democrat lawmakers focused on getting the governor’s labor deal approved to lock in benefits and wage increases. That labor deal has created chaos, as the governor’s executive order makes abundantly clear. So while the upper echelon of state union employees now know what to expect for next year, our students don’t, our teachers don’t, the parents of children with disabilities don’t, and property taxpayers don’t. It’s not right. Our children deserve better. Despite our budgets and proposals being rejected in the past, Republicans are not giving up and we are continuing to push for a budget that fairly funds education.”

The legislators noted that had any of the budget proposals put forward by legislative Republicans since April been adopted, ECS funding to municipalities would have been preserved without raising taxes, and this cut to Canton and Avon’s education funding would have been unnecessary.

**END**

LeGeyt, Witkos Present Citation During Exhibit Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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The Avon Historical Society and the Avon Free Public Library, and with a grant from CT Humanities, opened an exhibit in July entitled “Moments in Avon’s History” featuring 12 colorful and educational portable banners, each telling a different aspect of Avon’s history, with historic and current photos, covering topics such as early education, agriculture, religion, and transportation.  These portable banners will bring history “on the road” to town offices, businesses, schools and retail shops on a rotating basis to pique the interest of the general public about the town’s rich heritage and history.

During the ribbon cutting and public viewing on July 29th an Official Citation from the General Assembly was presented by the town’s state elected officials.  It congratulated the Society and Library for providing a “testament to the Town’s commitment for preserving and celebrating its history and cultural heritage.”

The banners are on display outside the History Room of the Library through August.  Anyone interested in having one or more of these banners in their entrance ways, foyers, atriums, etc., beginning in the Fall, please leave a message for the Avon Historical Society at 860-678-7621.  It is anticipated they will rotate every two months.

Mark Your Calendars: ‘Tax Free Week’ 8/20-8/26

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With the start of another school year just around the corner, I wanted to remind you to take advantage of the upcoming “Tax Free Week” which runs from Sunday, August 20th through Saturday, August 26th.

This one-week event eliminates Connecticut’s 6.35% sales tax on clothing and footwear costing less than $100 per item.

Additionally, new and used college textbooks are exempt from the state 6.35% sales tax for students who present a valid college ID at the time of purchase.

Since sales tax is calculated after the use of any coupons or discounts, if the final price is less than $100, the sale is exempt from taxes. Clothing or footwear under $100 put on layaway is also tax-free.

Please note: The threshold for this benefit has been substantially reduced from $300 in previous years, and will only apply to clothing and footwear that costs less than $100.

Tax Free Week was first enacted in 2000, and applies to most clothing and footwear purchases intended for everyday use.

Goods not covered under the program include, but are not limited to:

  • Clothing or footwear specifically designed for athletic activities: football cleats, specialty boots for fishing, hiking, skiing and other activities, as well as wet suits, helmets and headbands, etc.
  • Accessories: jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, etc.

Please consult with your local retailer, or visit the Department of Revenue Services website for a full list of qualifying and non-qualifying items.

Please feel free to contact me regarding this or any state or local issue at 800-842-1423 or email tim.legeyt@housegop.ct.gov.