SHERMAN – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) and State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) discussed the 2017 state budget process and provisions of the recently-adopted budget that will affect Sherman residents at a town hall budget forum at the Sherman Firehouse on Wednesday.
Several Sherman municipal officials including outgoing Selectman Clay Cope (R-Sherman) and Selectman-Elect Don Lowe (D-Sherman) also spoke on the panel and offered their thoughts on how this budget would impact Sherman.
Of particular concern to residents were state funding for municipal programs in the midst of Connecticut’s historical fiscal crisis and the cuts made to the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) for low-income seniors and disabled populations. Rep. Smith and Sen. McLachlan spoke about the slow pace of the budget process and frustrations reaching a compromise with the majority party, while emphasizing that the new state budget, while imperfect, implements structural changes such as a constitutional spending cap and a bonding cap – two provisions each legislator had sought for many years.
“I was heartened to see such a heavy turnout for our budget forum,” said Rep. Smith. “Considering how arduous and complex the budget process was this year, it is encouraging to see that folks in Sherman are engaged with the issues and demand accountability from the representatives in Hartford. Because we also had local officials on hand, it was a really productive and informative dialogue. I look forward to scheduling more events like this in Sherman to talk about some of the other concerns that residents brought up but did not get to discuss at length.”
“We made progress this year and we will come back into special session in January to shore up funding for the Medicare Savings Plan,” said Sen. McLachlan. “However, we know more budget deficits are coming. I believe we cannot sufficiently address our deficit problems without also looking at state employee pay and benefits. We must get spending under control.”