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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.

 

Rep. Smith Calls for Swift Release of Stalled Town Aid Road Funding

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HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) has joined calls from municipal officials across Connecticut in requesting the immediate release of overdue state aid following the third nor’easter to hit the state in two weeks.  In December, Governor Dannel Malloy announced $30 million in Town Aid Road (TAR) grants would be withheld because of the Special Transportation Fund’s persistent budget shortfall.

Rep. Smith noted additional winter snowfalls have made deep impacts on public works and snow removal budgets in northern Fairfield County, especially after rampant power outages in the region. He is urging state officials to hasten the release of funds communities normally would have received in January.

“If state officials do not release TAR grants to municipalities now, it will have devastating effects on the condition of local roads in the spring,” said Rep. Smith.  “Northern Fairfield County has experienced three nor’easters in the past month, with another one possible this week.  Fluctuating temperatures that come with these winter storms mean potholes and other road hazards will soon be appearing with alarming frequency unless towns can start closing on construction contracts.  If towns do not receive the funding they were promised by the state, they won’t be able to move forward with these projects.  It is wrong for the state punish municipal governments because their own fiscal policies failed by withholding crucial TAR funding reserved for towns.”

The governor has made TAR grants a political football this year in his dispute with the legislature regarding funding for the Special Transportation Fund. The state budgeted $60 million in TAR grants for the fiscal year, but the governor decided to suspend half of that funding, claiming insufficient revenue had been collected.

“Given our state’s unending fiscal crisis, municipalities have been forced to endure uncertainty regarding their funding, but the biggest thing they have asked for is to not cut promised funding mid-year like this,” said Rep. Smith.  “I spent all of 2017 advocating ways the state could achieve savings without raising taxes or cutting local funding by making structural reforms to state government, and that’s where we should still be looking.  We cannot put Connecticut drivers at risk this spring and summer because of a spending dispute.  The governor needs to release these funds immediately.”

Rep. Smith has asked the governor to put TAR grants on the agenda for the next State Bond Commission this spring in order to ensure towns have sufficient funding for infrastructure projects.