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Rep. Smith Welcomes Bipartisan Passage of State Government

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HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) expressed guarded optimism at the passage of a bipartisan state budget through both chambers of the General Assembly late Friday night.

After three Democratic State Senators broke ranks and voted for a GOP budget amendment, which passed the Senate earlier that afternoon, the House passed, now called a bipartisan document by a vote of 77-73.  It now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, although it is possible he will use his veto power to block it from becoming law.

“After months of debate, House Republicans were finally able to get their budget called for debate and, in an historic vote, five moderate Democrats joined us in passing a zero tax increase budget that restores education funding to our towns and cities.  Clearly, with the bipartisan support that this budget received, we are now in a position to make the necessary structural changes to state government to turn Connecticut’s economy around,”  said Rep. Smith.  “For the first time in a very long time, there is hope for our state.”

After the Republican budget passed the State Senate, Governor Malloy declared his intention to veto the budget bill passed by the General Assembly.  The Danbury legislators urged the governor to reconsider, citing the “draconian” effects his executive order could have on local education and other state services.

“If the governor were to veto this budget, he would be standing in the way of fiscal policies that would dramatically reform this state and impose brutal funding cuts to local aid and education funding – it would be a terrible move,” said Rep. Smith.  “Governor Malloy needs to listen to the voices of Connecticut residents who elected legislators to change the course of this state and get out of the way of progress.”

The budget crisis in Connecticut is currently in its third month.  Should the governor block passage of this budget bill, it is unlikely the state will adopt a budget prior to the October 1 deadline for education payments and the governor’s executive order would take effect.

How to Help in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

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Rep. Richard Smith (R-108) released the following statement, encouraging his constituents to consider donating to accredited relief funds raising money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey:

The images of distress and suffering from the aftermath of flooding in Texas and Louisiana resulting from Hurricane Harvey are powerful…and, if you’re like me, you want to know what you can do to help out.

Just as this catastrophe has brought out the best in some people who have risen to the challenge to show their charity and humanity, so it has also brought out the worst – those who would prey on both the disaster victims and those who want to help them.  Unfortunately, there are many scams out there looking to steal from those who wish to donate.

If you want to help, please donate only to trusted and reputable charity organizations.  Do not donate over the phone to solicitors who have called you.

Three great organizations you should consider donating to are Americares and the American Red Cross.  Stephen Siller’s Tunnel to Towers Foundation, run by a family in New Fairfield, is also collecting donations.  Links to each of them are found below.

 

 

Lastly, if you want to volunteer to help down in Texas, do not self-deploy.  You can contact your town’s emergency services director to coordinate with them.  If you need assistance in getting this accomplished, please call my office and I can direct you where to go.

If you are a doctor or a nurse, please coordinate with the State Department of Public Health concerning dispatching emergency medical services to the area.

Rep. Smith Denounces “Another Bad Deal for Connecticut” as SEBAC Labor Agreement Passes the House

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Extends Current State Employees’ Union Contract Until 2027

HARTFORD State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) voiced his dismay at Monday’s House approval of the state employees’ union concession package due to its insufficient savings and structural changes and its extension of the current union contract until 2027.

The concession package, negotiated by Governor Malloy and union leaders, was ratified by state employees earlier this month and now is tentatively scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31.  Analysts have predicted the plan could save approximately $1.5 billion over the next two years by increasing pension contributions, creating a hybrid/defined contribution plan for future state employees, increasing healthcare co-payments, and realizing other labor savings.  The deal also restricts the state’s ability to lay off workers until 2021.

House Republicans, including Rep. Smith, highlighted some of the structural change in the concession package as “steps in the right direction” that they supported, but blasted the notion that the deal solved Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and indicated it could lead to funding cuts and tax increases in the future.

“This is a deal I might have advocated for maybe six years ago before we had a $5.1 billion budget deficit, but at this critical juncture in our state’s fiscal mess it is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole,” said Rep. Smith. “It simply does not go far enough in achieving the savings we need to turn the tide in Connecticut. Alternatively, Republicans offered a real solution with substantive changes as part of our proposed budget – changes that would put control of our future back in the hands of the taxpayers as opposed to the unions who have controlled our state since Gov. Malloy took office This is another bad deal that represents the worst of Hartford.”

No action was taken Monday on passing a two-year budget for the State of Connecticut. House Republican attempts to call their fully-vetted, no tax-increase budget proposal were rebuffed by the majority Democrats. The first attempt took place in the form of a rules change, the second in the form of an amendment to the SEBAC agreement

“The SEBAC deal clears the way for Democrats to push through the tax increases and funding cuts that they wanted in the first place under the guise of structural reform,” said Rep. Smith. “It’s mind-boggling that the majority party refuses to even allow a vote on our budget, submitted back in April, when they can’t agree on one themselves. Democrats continue to stick their heads in the sand, while people suffer from the budget cuts – shameful.”

Editorial: Arrogance, Disdain, and an Unprecedented Failure to Lead

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July 7, 2017Rep. Richard A. Smith

As the calendar turned from June to July last week, the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, failed to accomplish the single most important job it had this session – drafting, negotiating, and calling the legislature back into session to debate, and eventually vote on a two-year state budget. Instead, the Democratic leadership ignored the zero-tax increase balanced budget prepared by the Republicans and chose to relinquish its duty to the governor, who now must run the state by executive order – a chilling proposition for towns, school districts, and core government services.

Most years, debate about the state budget is largely parlor talk among Hartford insiders; the average hard-working taxpayer would need a heavily translated version of the financial jargon and political intricacies to understand the process.

However, when General Electric announced its unprecedented departure from its longtime Fairfield headquarters for a move to Massachusetts citing the fiscal mismanagement and crippling anti-business policies included in the 2015 biennial budget, Connecticut residents began to pay closer attention.  That was on the heels of report after report confirming the extent of Connecticut’s debt and our own Comptroller admitting Connecticut remains in a state of “permanent fiscal crisis.”  Now, after being in Connecticut for more than 150 years, Aetna has, after witnessing firsthand the failure of this majority party leadership and their doomed fiscal policies, joined the exodus and decided to relocate its headquarters to New York.

Our local businesses and families have also experienced the harmful effects of depleted revenue receipts, an unequal Education Cost Sharing formula, and unfunded pension liabilities as the fiscal mismanagement directly affects their jobs, their children’s educations, and their life savings.

It comes as no surprise that the Office of Fiscal Analysis reported income tax revenue is down $1.1 billion and sales and corporate taxes are projected to fall by $450 million. Meanwhile, pension contributions to state employees have doubled since 2010 while most state employees pay little or no deductible and a $15 co-pay for health care.

As a member of the House Republican caucus, I am proud that we presented a fully vetted budget that funds core services and closed the deficit without increasing taxes.  Since the unaffordable cost of state government is among the main reasons Connecticut cannot pay its bills, we proposed streamlining state government and saving money by asking for real concessions from our state workforce comparable to private sector jobs.  As a state, we can no longer afford the onerous benefits demanded by and given to public employee unions, which they have received because the majority party refuses to allow their contracts to be voted on by the legislature. By rule enacted by the majority, union contracts negotiated by the governor become law unless voted on by the Legislature within thirty days.

Democrats displayed a shocking lack of leadership in this process from day one.  Being the majority party in the House, they control major legislative committees by majority rule and control the agenda on the floor of the House.  Rather than roll up their sleeves and get to work, they failed to produce a budget by the Appropriations Committee deadline in March and stubbornly refused at any point to consider any portion of the budget that Republicans crafted.  This year’s session concluded at midnight on June 7th without even a discussion on the most critical issue we had to face. A special session on the taxpayer’s dime was then planned for June 29th to vote on a budget just in time for the June 30th deadline. There was only one problem. The Democrats did not have a budget prepared to vote on and refused to call the Republican budget.

Folks, let’s make no mistake about this, the Speaker of the House and Democratic leadership failed Connecticut families and businesses by ignoring the issue that has become the top priority for state government: Connecticut’s economy.  Whether it’s sheer arrogance or just a general disdain for taxpayers, failure of this magnitude is utterly beyond comprehension. Clearly, it is time for a change in the leadership of this state. Until that happens, you can expect more of the same, including higher taxes and more residents and businesses leaving Connecticut, despite the best efforts of myself and the minority party in the legislature.

Rep. Smith Discusses State Issues with Constituents at a Town Hall Forum in New Fairfield

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NEW FAIRFIELD  State Representative Richard Smith (R-108 listened to the questions and concerns of constituents in New Fairfield alongside State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) at a well-attended town hall meeting they hosted on Tuesday night.

The legislators engaged in a productive discussion at the New Fairfield Senior Center with area residents wanting a chance to hear from their elected officials on how their lives would be affected by pressing state political topics. Eager to listen to what issues mattered most to their constituents, Rep. Smith and Sen. McLachlan answered dozens of questions over the course of the hour and a half event. After the conclusion of the forum, they remained to answer questions from those who did not have a chance to ask them during the town hall.