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O’Neill Challenges House Majority on Parliamentary Procedure: Refuses to Support a Half-Baked Transportation Lockbox Bill

HARTFORD – State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) challenged the majority party on a ruling that blocked House Republicans from proposing a strict lockbox on transportation funds on Tuesday, June 06, 2017.

“The resolution that was passed today merely gives the illusion of a transportation lockbox,” said Rep. O’Neill. “Today, we attempted to propose an amendment that would effectively secure transportation funds for their intended purpose, which is to maintain and improve upon our infrastructure. Unfortunately, the majority party sidelined our efforts with a parliamentary maneuver that prevented a vote on a real lockbox. They are unable to control state spending and will use any funds necessary to fill holes in the budget.”

The Republican proposal excluded debt payments from the definition of “transportation purposes” forcing all transportation funds to be spent solely on specific transportation related capital expenditure projects and non-debt service operating costs limited to a maximum 3% growth per year. Additionally, the Republican amendment explicitly stated that all revenue sources that are earmarked for the Special Transportation Fund must be credited towards that account. Most importantly, the Republican amendment provided Connecticut citizens with a means to enforce this lockbox and prevent future raids on the transportation fund.

“This was an opportunity to make a meaningful structural change to our state finances, but the majority party chose to pass a fake lockbox constitutional amendment,” added Rep. O’Neill.

House Joint Resolution 100 is now on the Senate calendar awaiting action.

Connecticut Open House Day Saturday, June 10

This Saturday, June 10, marks the 13th annual Connecticut Open House Day. This event is a celebration of Connecticut’s unique history and culture. There are several events in Southbury and Washington and Rep. O’Neill encourages residents to attend. Below is a list of events by town:

Southbury:

Bullet Hill School – Free admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is an opportunity to tour one of the oldest brick schoolhouses in the state.

Old Town Hall Museum – Open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Washington:

H.O.R.S.E. of CT, Inc. – Free admission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors have the opportunity to see the horses up close.

Institute for American Indian Studies – Free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rep. O’Neill Offers Bipartisan Amendment to H.B. 7308: Task Force on Body-Worn Cameras by Police

HARTFORD – State Representative Arthur O’Neill (R-69) proposed an amendment, House Amendment Schedule A, LCO 8076, which helped secure passage for H.B. 7308, An Act Concerning a Task Force to Examine Issues Concerning the Use of Body-Worn Camera and Recording Equipment by Police.

“This is something that is important to my district because we are trying to put the body cameras on police officers and to make sure that we gather the information we need,” said Rep. O’Neill. “This bill was requested by my home town of Southbury and will benefit all the towns in my district. Additionally, better use of this technology will not only benefit civilians, but police officers as well. The technology will yield more transparency and accountability from our law enforcement officials, while also providing them with an added degree of protection while in the line of duty.”

This is a strike-all amendment, which removes and replaces the language of the original bill, and effectively becomes the new bill. This amendment provides more flexibility to local police departments in order to access a pool of funds used to purchase equipment such as body-worn cameras. In 2015, the Bond Commission authorized $15 million for the use of body-worn cameras, only $1 million of which was used. This bill is designed to increase eligibility for use of those funds. It increases eligibility to departments utilizing dashboard cameras and extends the deadline for 100% reimbursement for use of body-worn cameras. The goal is to encourage police departments to take advantage of new technology rather than mandating them to purchase this equipment. This amendment also adds law enforcement personnel to the task force, which ensures that all concerned parties are represented in this crucial study.

H.B. 7308 passed 148-1 and now heads to the State Senate for action there. This session of the CT General Assembly ends at midnights, June 7, 2017.

Please click here or on the image above to watch Rep. O’Neill’s comments on the amendment.

Republican Rescue and Renew – Opinion by Rep. Arthur O’Neill

Can Connecticut be saved? That question was recently put to me by a college student after I had finished explaining the Connecticut fiscal crisis. I hesitated for a moment before I said “YES.”

That was before the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee pulled the plug on their budget just a few hours after they had scheduled a vote on it. I would still answer “YES.”

Why? Because on April 27 my fellow Republicans and I presented a plan to rescue the state budget and renew Connecticut.

The Republican budget is a NO TAX INCREASE budget. Connecticut’s citizens and workers have suffered the two largest tax increases in the last 6 years, yet we remain in a “permanent fiscal crisis”. We are a tax-traumatized state. It’s time for a new approach.

The Democrats’ spending addiction has caused this fiscal calamity. We need to reduce spending to bring Connecticut back to prosperity. The House Republican budget spends $833 million less than the Democrats’ budget and $270 million less than the governor’s budget.

The Republican budget erases a $5.1 billion budget deficit and restores a balanced budget. Years of mismanagement allowed Connecticut’s budget to balloon to unsustainable spending levels. After six years of failed Democrat budgets, Republicans had to make tough choices to close the budget deficit.

The Republican budget makes structural changes to state government for long-term savings.

Twenty-five years ago, over 80% of Connecticut’s citizens voted for a constitutional spending cap, but Democrats refuse to obey the command of the people to implement the cap. The Republican budget implements the constitutional spending cap with effective restrictions. Finally, the will of the people is being heard.

The Republican budget requires mandatory approval of labor contracts by the General Assembly. Labor costs are the major driver of state spending. The legislature must exert control over the process.

The Republican budget enacts a constitutional Transportation Lockbox. For too long majority Democrats have raided transportation funding to plug budget holes. We set in statute a cap on general obligation bonding by the State Treasurer at $1.3 billion annually – significantly less than the over $2 billion that has been issued each year for the past three years. Under Governor Malloy borrowing has skyrocketed to levels which prompted rating agencies to downgrade Connecticut state bonds.

State government is too big. It is time to shrink government and focus on core functions. The Republican budget improves efficiency by consolidating administrative functions, privatizing programs for mental health and the developmentally disabled, eliminating taxpayer funded election campaigns, merging the Department of Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood into the Department of Education, merging the Department of Housing into the Department of Economic and Community Development, and merging the State Department of Aging into the Department of Social Services.

Our budget also closes the CT Juvenile Training School. Public safety and assistance for our neediest citizens are important roles of government, which is why we restore cuts to essential programs. The Republican budget reverses the governor’s massive increase on gun permit fees.

The Republican budget provides tax relief for families and seniors. Republicans will restore the property tax credit for seniors and families, which was cut by Governor Malloy. Republicans will phase out the income tax on social security income. The Republican budget rejects Governor Malloy’s plan to have municipalities tax hospitals. Taxing hospitals will only drive up the cost of health care and possibly force some hospitals to close.

The Republican budget reduces the Death Tax. This tax is continually cited as a major reason people leave Connecticut.

The Republican budget provides every town with an increase in education funding. Governor Malloy mandated that towns pay $407 million for the Teachers’ Retirement Fund. The Republican budget removes this mandated burden. It is not fair to towns or property tax payers to shift such a gigantic burden onto municipalities.

Shortly after we originally presented the Republican budget, estimated tax receipts declined sharply.  We revised our budget to account for that revenue drop. My Republican colleagues and I are working into the night to reduce spending, to balance the budget, and prevent tax increases. We will work as long as necessary until we finish the job.

Rep. O’Neill Speaks with Gainfield Elementary Students at the Capitol

Thank you to Mrs. Bunosso, Mrs. Tesch and their fourth grade classes for joining us at the Capitol today. I enjoyed speaking with the students about the General Assembly and the work we are doing in Hartford. I hope they enjoyed their visit and I wish them luck in these final weeks of the school year!