HARTFORD –State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) voted to approve a bipartisan budget on Thursday as it passed the House of Representatives with a 126-23 veto-proof margin. Following the Senate’s passage of the budget bill, it now heads to the desk of Governor Dannel Malloy for signature or potential veto.
The legislature’s budget was a compromise between House and Senate leadership from both parties in the midst of the governor’s executive order, which included dramatic funding reductions for town aid, education, and core social services – facts that had local leaders and residents worried about teacher layoffs and supplemental tax bills.
“When we were called to vote on a budget today we had two major challenges to overcome that threatened property taxpayers and businesses in Connecticut – the SEBAC union contract that passed in July and limited our ability to cut government spending and the governor’s executive order that decimated local education funding,” said Rep. Richard Smith (R-108). “With the real threat of towns having to significantly raise property taxes just to keep our schools open, reaching a bipartisan compromise and passing a budget that will begin to change the way we govern in Connecticut had to be done. Although the compromise budget contains certain elements that I am not in favor of, the positives certainly outweighed the negatives by restoring local education funding, rejecting the transfer of teacher pension costs to towns and making key structural reforms that Republicans have advocated for decades, such as a implementing a constitutional spending cap. All of that was accomplished without any of the income or sales tax increases proposed by the Democrats. We still have a lot of work to do in order to turn our state around and make Connecticut a taxpayer-friendly place again, but the veto-proof approval of this budget represents a small victory of taxpayers over the draconian orders of Governor Malloy.”
When the General Assembly approved the governor’s SEBAC union contract in July, it limited the ability of the state to close its $5 billion budget deficit by trimming its bureaucracy and controlling pension costs. However, the legislators pointed to several structural reforms within the compromise budget that were retained from a Republican budget bill that passed last month. These include a bonding cap, a spending cap, a mandatory vote on all union contracts, and certain municipal mandate relief reforms. It also rejects several tax increases proposed by majority Democrats and the governor in previous budget proposals.
Rep. Smith concluded by calling the passage of the compromise budget “the best option we had,” saying, “Majority Democrats put us in an unfortunate fiscal bind by passing the SEBAC union agreement. As a legislator, however, I have a responsibility to get to work and be a part of the solution rather than stand back and watch the state fall apart. We still have a lot of work to do but the state will truly be in better shape when this budget becomes law.”
The governor will make his decision on whether to veto the budget bill or not in the coming weeks, although there is optimism that a veto could be overridden in both chambers.