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.