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Republican Legislators Urge Override of Governor’s Veto

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Governor’s actions irresponsible to schools, municipalities

State Republican legislators today expressed disappointment that the Governor vetoed the only state budget to pass the General Assembly with bipartisan support. At a press conference in Plymouth earlier in the day, the legislators and local municipal leaders had called on the Governor to sign the budget. Now, they are calling on support to override the veto.

Senator Henri Martin (R-31) said, “I guess the one good thing I can say is that the Governor is a man of his word. He said he was going to veto this budget and that is what he did. He did that knowing what his executive order has been doing and will continue to do to our communities, to our schools, to the elderly, and to those with disabilities. He has either been deaf to their pleas or he must have a heart of stone.”

The only recourse that can save core services, Sen. Martin said, is for the legislature to meet and override the veto.

Senator Craig Miner (R-30) said, “The bipartisan budget is not perfect, but it reflects the consensus intention that problems at the state level should not result in a disaster at the municipal level. The governor should not have vetoed this budget, but since he did, it is the legislature’s duty to override his short-sighted decision.”

Representative Whit Betts (R-78) said, “We continue to hear the pleas from our municipalities and school systems about the importance of moving forward on a budget and providing them with certainty and predictability. The General Assembly did its job and adopted a bipartisan budget which does just that. Although not surprised, I am disheartened by the governor’s budget veto today. I urge the Speaker of the House to call the legislature into session, and I’m hopeful that my fellow lawmakers will vote to override the budget veto.”

Representative Cara Pavalock-D’Amato (R-77) said, “The bipartisan budget that Governor Malloy vetoed today reduced state expenses and cut administrative costs throughout government while prioritizing core functions and maintaining funding for critical programs for those most in need, like Care for Kids. I am extremely concerned for my constituents about the governor’s executive orders that will go into effect on October 1, and the devastating impact it will have on these programs.”

Representative John Piscopo (R-78) said, “Now that the governor has vetoed the bipartisan budget, I’m greatly concerned about Governor Malloy’s looming executive order. Not only is it bad policy, it will be putting a terrible hurting our towns. Some of the finance houses in New York, namely Standard & Poor’s, have indicated that the bond ratings will be degraded in our towns if the executive order stands. We have seen the state’s bond ratings degraded four times in the last year and a half. It would be detrimental if this were to happen to our towns, because this is funding we depend on for our local infrastructure projects like roads and bridges.”

Representative William A. Petit, Jr. (R-22) said, “The bipartisan budget which helped towns and cities across our state with increases in municipal aid has been vetoed today, and we will now see drastic cuts to municipal aid with the Governor’s executive orders. In the Appropriations committee on which I serve, our mantra in crafting a budget has been to try and protect children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. Now, drastic cuts to vital social services, including Care for Kids, Meals on Wheels, and substance abuse treatment services, will go into effect on October 1, and our small towns and communities will not be able to sustain this extra burden that the state will be inflicting on them.”

The legislators said they hope that when the veto session comes, other members of the General Assembly will reflect on the words municipal leaders spoke during the press conference at Plymouth Town Hall today.

Plymouth Mayor David V. Merchant “We’re a small community. We don’t a have big fund balance. We’ve gone through some financial woes over the last couple years and we don’t have that extra money to make up in the middle of a year. . . We’ve got a school system that’s three months into the year and now we’re talking about making major cuts to that. We can’t sustain that. The Town of Plymouth, and I speak for a lot of small communities, we just can’t sustain that.”

Plainville Town Council Chair Katherine M. Pugilese “Plainville is looking at a reduction of almost $2 million in the current fiscal year in the Governor’s proposed budget. How do we take care of that? We have gotten no direction. Do we deplete our fund balance, which we have carefully guarded over many, many years of wise financial planning? Do we start to lay off the people that are so very important to our community, our teachers, our police, our people that take care of our parks and our roadways? . . . (Republicans) are here to protect the very people who are going to be asked to shoulder this burden: the taxpayers. That’s the only way the cities and the states can raise revenue is to increase taxes on the taxpayers, whether they are businesses or individuals, and they will decrease services while they are taking more money out of our pockets. I don’t imagine any worse scenario right now.”

Harwinton First Selectman Michael R. Criss “I will use the Governor’s words as he eloquently said it: Municipal leaders do it better. We do it better every day . . As small communities, we took time over the last three to four years and renegotiated our union agreements, our healthcare plans, our pension plans. Our union members sacrificed, for what? For our community. For our children’s future. For the future of this state.  . . Our municipalities cannot shoulder this. We do not have extra money to bail Hartford out. We do not have extra money to bail Governor Malloy’s pet projects out. The money is earmarked for bridges. It’s earmarked for roads. It’s earmarked for the future of rebuilding Connecticut town-by-town.”

Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne “I second what First Selectman Criss said. Municipalities, we don’t have the luxury of not having a budget. We had to have a budget. And what we did in Bristol was we spoke to our representatives and we took a best guess at where our budget was going to be and the Republican budget is right about where they said it would be. The Governor, in Bristol, is cutting almost $4 million out of our budget. That’s over one mill. We cannot sustain that. We would be in trouble if we have to start making those cuts.”

For more information on the bipartisan budget that Governor Malloy vetoed, visit: www.cthousegop.com/budget

Local Legislators Hail Passage of Bipartisan Budget

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Urge Gov. Malloy to sign budget into law

Hartford – State Representatives John Piscopo (R-76) and Dave Wilson (R-66), and State Senators Craig Miner (R-30) and Henri Martin (R-31) applauded passage of a bi-partisan budget that avoids new tax increases, preserves core social services, keeps commitments to education, provides stability for municipalities, and rejects Governor Malloy’s proposed shifting of teacher pension costs onto towns and cities.  

The budget passed following a remarkable display of bipartisanship from Democrat Senators Hartley, Doyle and Slossberg, who joined their Republican colleagues to vote of 21-15 in favor of the bill. The document was later taken up by the House of Representatives and, after lengthy debate, was passed by a margin of 77 – 73 early Saturday morning.

“This is a great day for the state of Connecticut and our taxpayers. The budget we passed will provide the protections that residents have been asking for by not implementing any new taxes. It will also protect education and municipal funding, which the governor threatens to cut by executive order on October 1. This budget will stop the problem of annual deficits by changing the way we do business in Connecticut.  I urge folks to call the governor and ask him to sign it,” said Rep. Piscopo.

“This budget, which was passed out of the legislature with the support of both Republicans and Democrats, offers a solution to a failing state and makes the changes necessary to stop the fiscal devastation that is happening.  The governor should sign this budget, which restores the massive funding cuts he has made to towns and cities, and restores critical education funding, which are in danger of massive, detrimental cuts effective on October 1. In addition, this budget does what taxpayers have been asking for- it does not raise new taxes, eliminates social security income tax, and also phases out tax on pension income for middle class. I urge residents to call the governor and ask him to sign this budget,” said
Rep. Wilson
.

“This bipartisan budget is about priorities. It protects core social services, implements an equitable education funding formula, and avoids huge tax increases that hurt our citizens and businesses. The budget proposed by the Democrats and Governor Malloy would have undoubtedly caused massive local tax increases and quite likely a loss of teaching positions,” said Miner. “Governor Malloy ought to put aside party politics the way a few courageous democrat legislators have and sign this budget. He’s asked the legislature for a budget, and we delivered. It’s his turn,” said
Sen. Miner.

“This budget recognizes that Connecticut cannot survive the tax-and-spend policies of the past. The only way we can move forward is to reduce the cost of our bloated state government and prioritize how we spend taxpayer dollars. Our budget funds those priorities: education, municipalities, services for seniors and those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. I believe this is the path we must take to stabilize the state’s economy,” said Sen. Martin.

Highlights of the bi-partisan budget:

•             Eliminates Social Security income tax and phases out tax on pension income for middle class
•             Restores funding for the state’s property tax credit in its entirety to all families and individuals
•             No increase or expansion of the state’s sales tax
•             No income tax increase
•             No new restaurant sales tax
•             No income tax increase
•             No secondary home tax
•             No cell phone tax
•             No increase to the cigarette tax
•             No new tax on nonprescription drugs
•             No new restaurant sales tax
•             No increase to the pistol permit fee
•             No increase to the hotel tax
•             No new fantasy sports tax

The budget moves to Governor Malloy’s desk where it awaits his signature, or sits for 30 days without signature, in order to go into effect.  Should, the governor veto the budget, it would return to the legislature for lawmakers  to either begin the budget process again, or override the veto with a two thirds vote of each chamber.

For more detailed information on the budget proposal, please visit: www.cthousegop.com/budget.

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Bipartisan Budget: Myth vs. Fact

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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.

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.

CT DOT: Nighttime Milling, Resurfacing on Route 6, SR 810

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The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has issued the following press release regarding milling and resurfacing that is occurring in our district. Please be advised that this may cause delays in travel through the vicinity.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me regarding this or any state or local issue at 800-842-1423 or email john.piscopo@housegop.ct.gov.

Nighttime Milling and Resurfacing on Route 6 (Woodbury Rd.) and SR 810 (Watertown Rd.) in Watertown and Thomaston     

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing that a nighttime milling and resurfacing project will be performed on Route 6 (Woodbury Rd.) in Watertown and Thomaston and SR 810 (Watertown Rd.) in Thomaston, Sunday, July 23, through Thursday, August 31, 2017. Work hours will be 8 pm to 5:30 am.  

The project consists of milling and resurfacing a 6.79 mile segment of Route 6 (Woodbury Rd.) in Watertown and Thomaston and a 0.43 mile segment of SR 810 (Watertown Rd.) in Thomaston. 

LANE CLOSURE INFO

Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 6 (Woodbury Rd.) between the Woodbury Town Line and Route 254 (Waterbury Turnpike) & on SR 810 (Watertown Rd.) between Rt. 6 (Woodbury Rd.) &

Rt. 254 (Waterbury Turnpike) Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zone. The regular work schedule for this project is 8:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. (Thursday through Saturday)

Motorists should be aware that modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.