Other Noteworthy Policy & Budgetary Changes

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Medicare Savings Program

  • Under current law, if nothing is done to change MSP beginning July 1, 2018 then 59,960 people will lose MSP coverage and 31,613 will see a reduced benefit.
  • This plan proposes to change income limits for eligibility to restore coverage for 158,099 people. This will cost the state $73.2 million over the existing budget for FY 2019.

Transportation

  • Enacts Prioritize Progress
  • Balances the STF (Special Transportation Fund) so that the fund will be fully funded and transportation projects can move forward without relying on tolls or new taxes.
  • Results in surpluses in the STF in each of the next 5 years.
  • Includes $20.6 million savings in debt service for Prioritize Progress
  • Eliminates funding for expanding the CTfastrak to UConn so that these funds can be used to enhance current infrastructure.
  • Provides protections for local transit districts so that they do not incur reductions in FY 2019

DETAILS

Prioritize Progress

  • Prioritize Progress is a capital infrastructure program.
  • Over the next five years it provides almost $1 billion more than the Governor’s plan for transportation capital infrastructure improvement projects.
  • The main premise of Prioritize Progress is that it uses general obligation (GO) bonds paid for with general fund (GF) debt service in lieu of special transportation obligation (STO) bonds paid for with special transportation fund (STF) debt service. It operates under the bonding cap.
  • Reducing the Governor annual STO bond issuance reduces STF debt service by $20.65 million in FY 2019 alone.
  • Over the next 30 years Prioritize Progress provides $21.9 billion of state funds for transportation. When coupled with the potential federal match, the total increases to $64.9 billion.
  • Republicans believe that transportation infrastructure improvement projects are vital to the State of Connecticut’s safety and economic growth. That is why we are comfortable prioritizing transportation improvement projects as compared to political handouts.
  • Prioritizing transportation according to our plan allows the state to afford transportation infrastructure improvement projects all while fully funding our commitment to local schools, higher education constituent units, and municipal aid. It also operates under the bond cap and therefore does not bond any more than the state already plans and budgets for.

Special Transportation Fund

  • This budget creates a positive balance in the STF and surpluses over the next 5 years of $16.1 million in FY 2019, $42.5 million in FY 2020, $71.8 million FY 2021, $124.7 million in FY 2022, and $71.8 million in FY 2023.
  • Accelerates moving sales tax from car sales at dealerships from the General Fund to the STF by one year (begins in FY 2020). This ensures transportation related revenue will be dedicated to transportation needs. 

Other Transportation Related Changes

  • Transit district protection – Require that the DOT Commissioner fund transit districts at the same level that they were funded in FY 2017. Legislatively state that any reductions in expenditures from the Bus Operations account that need to occur in FY 2019 in order to live within the recommended appropriation in FY 2019 under the Department of Transportation come from the operation of CTfastrak.
  • DOT does not have ability to raise bus or rail fares in FY 2019 (the 1% currently in statute can go into effect).

Municipal Aid & Education Funding

  •  Fully funds Educational Cost Sharing Grants at FY 2019 enacted levels ($85.6 million more than the current year).
  • Rejects governor’s proposed education cuts including proposal to zero out towns with enacted grand list over $200,000.
  • Increases municipal aid $63 million more than the governor.
  • Flat funds Excess Cost Grants from FY 2017.
  • Does not shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities.
  • Increases Vocational Agriculture per pupil grant by $500.
  • Maintains Charter/Magnet per pupil grant which was recently increased to $250 per slot.
  • State assumes cost of Renters Rebate, therefore reducing cost on towns/cities and protects program.

Hartford

  • Amend law that gives OPM unilateral authority to enter into contract assistance with communities.
  • The bipartisan budget granted $40 million to Hartford over the next two years. However, the contract agreed to by Gov. Malloy and the City of Hartford provides $48 million to Hartford over the next two years. Therefore, this plan reduces grants to Hartford by $8 million so that actual aid provided to Hartford is kept at the $40 million agreed to in the budget.
  • Contains language to reduce Hartford’s statutory grants in FY 2020 and beyond by the value of the debt services assistance that the city receives pursuant to the contract entered into by OPM.

Higher Education

  • Provides $6.2 million in additional funding for community colleges
  • Protects Roberta Willis Scholarship for existing students and those entering public schools. Stops new scholarships for students attending private schools.
  • UCONN and UCONN health center
    • Reduces UCONN budget by $63.2 million (this results in a total biennial reduction to UCONN of $120.3 million. Original Republican budget that passed last year would have resulted in a $151.5 million reduction in funding. Therefore, this reduction is $31.2 million less than what was originally proposed and passed by the legislature).
    • To achieve savings recommends following changes:
      • Requires professors to teach one additional course
      • Maintains language to require UCONN Health to begin privatization process
      • Removes enhanced Medicaid and fringe benefit reimbursements to UConn Heath Center (which does not pay hospital tax)
      • Eliminates Medicaid Payments for Graduate Medical Education. Hospitals will still receive $90 million in indirect payments.

(NOTE: It currently costs $298,000 in taxpayer funding for each student to attend UConn Health Center Medical School, on top of the annual tuition charges these students pay. Clearly, there is a need to reduce these costs.)

Back to the full plan…