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Rep. Smith Update: Prioritize Progress – A Plan to Fully Fund the STF

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As it stands now, a major roadblock to Connecticut’s economic recovery remains the issue of transportation funding and how we prioritize spending.

Every state relies on its transportation network to drive economic development and maximize quality of life. Unfortunately, transportation has been ignored for far too long here in Connecticut. Funding has been unpredictable and unreliable.  It has long been a misguided tradition to siphon off funds intended for transportation projects to spend elsewhere. As a result our transportation system is far from where it needs to be to foster growth and advancement.

It is time to make transportation a priority.

On Friday, I joined the House Republican caucus in unveiling an updated plan for a long-term solution to advance transportation in Connecticut for the next generation. A component of our budget adjustment proposal for 2018, Prioritize Progress creates a predictable and sustainable funding stream to ensure that transportation will be properly prioritized for the next three decades.

Here is how we do it while keeping the budget balanced:

 

Require the state to:

1) Reserve a set amount of General Obligation Bonds to be used solely for transportation priorities.

2) Preserve Special Tax Obligation bonds dedicated to transportation.

3) Re-establish the Transportation Strategy Board (TSB) to work alongside CTDOT to assess proposed projects and identify community needs.

 

Benefits of the plan include:

  • An annual transportation funding mechanism guaranteeing over $1 billion annually over the next 30 years
  • No tax increases
  • No tolls
  • A reduction in state bonding compared to recent practices
  • Flexibility in setting transportation priorities
  • A sustainable and predictable funding plan to support future generations

By prioritizing funding for transportation and creating a more effective strategy for identifying urgencies, we can create a safe, reliable and multi-model transportation network – including roads, bridges, rail, bus, and port improvements. It is recommended that Connecticut first address immediate safety needs and deteriorating infrastructure and then consider progressive development for our future.

Everyone benefits from a strong transportation system, and progress can only be made if we prioritize transportation.

For more information about our budget proposal, click here.

As always, I am eager to hear from you if you have any questions or comments about Prioritize Progress, transportation funding, the state budget, or any other issue related to state government.  Please do not hesitate to email me at

richard.smith@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.

Rep. Smith, Republican Colleagues Detail Plan to Balance the Budget & Make Connecticut Fiscally Sustainable

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Budget Adjustments Prioritize Transportation, Education, Paying Off Liabilities

HARTFORD State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) joined his Republican colleagues in rolling out a budget adjustment proposal for Fiscal Year 2019 ahead of a meeting of the Appropriations Committee.

The proposal aims to eliminate Connecticut’s $200 million budget deficit without raising taxes while maintaining funding for transportation, Education Cost Sharing grants, core social services, and tax breaks for seniors, retirees, and working families. More dollars are also dedicated to repaying the state’s unfunded liabilities, including the State Employees’ Retirement Fund, the Teachers’ Retirement Fund, and the teachers’ healthcare fund.

Rep. Smith will continue to advocate for further structural changes to state government and reduce funds that had been allocated to bailing out the city of Hartford.

“The number one goal of the legislature this session must be to take every possible step to make our government affordable, more efficient, and more attentive to paying off our debts without sacrificing services Connecticut families rely on today,” said Rep. Smith. “Unlike the governor’s proposal, our budget does not rely on raising taxes or using unexpected revenue to pay for new programs we can’t afford.  Instead, we plan to use additional revenue we collect this year to pay down our looming unfunded liabilities and preserve funding for essential social programs, mass transit, education, and municipal aid.  This is the right approach to ensure we have stability and predictability in Connecticut.”

Rep. Smith emphasized the prioritization of transportation funding in the budget adjustment proposal by fully funding the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and preventing rail fare increases not already in statute from being implemented in 2018 or 2019.   It protects funding for local transit districts for the entirety of the budget cycle without calling for any new taxes or tolls.  In the proposal, funding is eliminated from the planned expansion of CT FastTrak to UConn and used to enhance existing infrastructure.

“For too long the STF has been raided by legislatures who have wanted to spend money on other pet projects and new spending programs, which is why we find ourselves in a situation where this dedicated funding source is due to go bankrupt in a few years,” said Rep. Smith.  “These budget adjustments make improving Connecticut’s infrastructure a priority by strengthening the STF and making sure urgent projects can be completed in a timely manner.  Our state is running out of options and we cannot neglect our responsibility to the people of Connecticut to provide good roads and reliable mass transit.”

Lawmakers have until the 2018 legislative session adjourns on May 9 to complete and pass a budget plan.

Rep. Smith Update: Help Find and Recognize a CT Environmental Champion

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One of Connecticut’s strengths as a state to live and do business in is its unique natural beauty.  Upper Fairfield County, in particular, draws many tourists and seasonal residents during all four seasons who want to experience the hills, trees, lakes, rivers, and skies that make our region remarkable.

The Aquarion Water Company prides itself on being stewards of the environment.  Every year, they offer an individual or business the chance to win statewide honors through the Aquarion Environmental Champions Awards program, announced at a special celebration to be held on June 2, 2018.

As the May 1 deadline for nominations for the Environmental Champion Awards approaches, Aquarion is encouraging people to consider nominating an individual, small or large business, student, or non-profit organization who has contributed to the improvement of our environment through the protection, conservation, restoration, and/or stewardship of Connecticut’s natural resources.

Adults, small and large businesses, and non-profit award winners have the opportunity to name an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant given in their name by Aquarion.  The winning student (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.

Aquarion has complete details on the program and nomination procedure on aquarionwater.com or on their Facebook page. An online nomination form can be found here.

If you believe an environmental effort deserves recognition, I encourage you to nominate them. I’m sure a lot of good could be done with the reward grant.

If you have a question about environmental conservation efforts or any other state issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Rep. Smith & Danbury Area Legislators Honor Pair of Civic-Minded Couples at Annual Danbury Day Celebration

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Hartford – Danbury legislators gathered at the Capitol today to honor two local couples for their contributions to the Danbury community. Citations from the Connecticut General Assembly were presented to the couples during the annual Danbury Day celebration.

Bob and Lynn Taborsak and Bob and Judge Dianne Yamin were thanked for their considerable civic and charitable work by State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) and State Representatives David Arconti (D-109), William Duff (R-2), Michael Ferguson (R-138), Bob Godfrey (D-110), Stephen Harding (R-107), and Richard Smith (R-108).

Rep. Smith said Bob and Judge Dianne Yamin are active members of the Danbury Lion’s Club and St. Anthony Maronite Church, among other civic and charitable organizations. Judge Yamin has served as a Judge of Probate since 1990 and is a past President-Judge of Connecticut Probate Assembly. Bob Yamin is Corporation Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of the City of Danbury and a member of the Danbury Lebanon American Club.

“I have known both Bob and Judge Yamin for many years and have always been impressed by their dedicated service to our community, so I enjoyed this opportunity to call attention to their achievements,” said Rep. Smith.  “It was my honor to be a part of the celebration on Danbury Day at the State Capitol to recognize the Yamins as well as Bob and Lynn Taborsak for their admirable civic and charitable work.  We could use a lot more people like them.”

Rep. Smith and Judge Dianne Yamin with Danbury’s Mad Hatter mascot

Rep. Smith and Sen. McLachlan Welcome Students from Sherman School to the State Capitol

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HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) joined State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) in welcoming a third-grade class from Sherman School as well as their teachers and parent chaperones to the State Capitol during their class visit on Wednesday. 

 After touring the historic Capitol building, the third-graders were officially announced on the floor of the House by Rep. Smith during a scheduled House session.  Then, Sen. McLachlan welcomed them to the Senate chamber.