New Fairfield, Sherman, New Milford and Danbury


Rep. Smith Votes for Compromise Budget to Protect Local Education, MSP Funding

Posted on May 10, 2018 by rjoslyn


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) on Wednesday praised the passage of a budget adjustment plan for the 2019 fiscal year.  The budget plan, which passed on a bipartisan vote before the end of the 2018 session, is the result of negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to make adjustments to the budget passed last October.

The Republican budget plan was called for a vote earlier in the day, but was defeated.

Rep. Smith emphasized the budget adjustments fulfill several of his key priorities for the session, including the protection of ECS funding for Monroe & Newtown, fully funding the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) for seniors, adding money to teachers’ healthcare accounts, and increasing funding to the Special Transportation Fund. The budget adjustments do not contain any tax increases, a critical requirement Republicans insisted on.

“With Connecticut stuck in this ongoing fiscal crisis, it is critical we support our seniors and students, which is why Republicans led the push to restore cuts made to MSP and preserving ECS funding,” said Rep. Smith. “This budget was a compromise with the majority party, so it does not do everything I would have liked. However, our state needs to have a balanced budget in place and we need to continue the progress made in the historic budget we passed last year.”

The plan will also provide $29 million more to the Special Transportation Fund for road projects by accelerating the existing tax on new cars. The funding will ramp up dramatically in the coming years.

Republicans were able to negotiate several provisions from their original budget proposal into the final legislation, including a hard hiring freeze on new state employees to save $7 million.

Among the provisions in the compromise budget are:

  • $5 million for emergency placement for Department of Developmental Services patients
  • Reduce Energy Efficiency Fund sweeps by $10 million
  • $9.5 million for cost of living increases for private providers

Republicans also were successful in including some provisions for long-term structural changes, such as allowing for volunteerism at the local level to ease burdens on towns and cities, and hiring a consultant to come up with $500 million in savings for Connecticut.Republicans also secured language in the legislation that would inhibit Gov. Malloy’s ability to cut funding for towns and cities as he did under his authority following the passage of the bipartisan budget last October.

“The budget we passed last year showed the progress Republicans can make in Hartford given more power, and this year our goal was to build on those achievements and keep the state moving in the right direction – even while working in the minority,” said Rep. Smith. “These are all encouraging developments for families and business in our state. I am eager to continue working in the coming months to finally open our state for business again.”

The new budget adjustments go into effect at the beginning of FY 2019 on July 1.

 

Rep. Smith Credits Vocal Opposition to Tolling for Legislative Reconsideration of Toll Proposals

Posted on May 3, 2018 by rjoslyn


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Cautions that Toll Legislation Could Still Reappear Later this Session

HARTFORD State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) expressed his optimism to Connecticut commuters and taxpayers after the Speaker of the House announced this week he is unlikely to bring a proposal related to the installation of electronic tolls up for a vote in the House of Representatives this year.

Crediting “significant pressure from toll opponents,” the Rep. Smith noted that majority leadership does not believe there are sufficient votes to pass the tolls legislation. However, he warned that until legislation related to tolls actually receives an up-or-down vote in the House, tolls could still be a part of the final budget package for the state.

“A considerable number of Connecticut commuters and taxpayers looked at the facts about how inefficiently transportation is funded in this state and decided the burdensome cost of paying tolls on their highways would not solve our fiscal problems, and they let legislators across the state know how they felt about it,” said Rep. Smith.  “This is democracy in action and vocal opposition to more taxation is the key to how we turn this state around.  That being said, the tolls bill is not defeated since it never received a vote in either the House or Senate.  They can still go back to it later if they want.  We can’t claim victory just yet.  I encourage people who are worried about tolls to remain vigilant and continue to keep the pressure on.”

As an alternative to funding Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund without the need for tolls, Rep. Smith joined his caucus in offering another plan for a long-term solution to advance transportation in Connecticut as a component of their budget adjustments proposal.  “Prioritize Progress” creates a predictable and sustainable funding stream to ensure that transportation will be prioritized for the next three decades, largely by reserving existing General Obligation Bonds exclusively for transportation projects and establishing a board to assess proposed projects and identify urgencies.

“Tolls are a non-starter for me – we need to stop raiding the STF, reduce administrative costs, and pursue more efficient ways to spend the revenue the STF already takes in,” said Rep. Smith. “Instead of trying to think of more ways to make it more expensive to live in Connecticut, we can prioritize transportation funding in the budget. By doing this, we can create a safe and reliable transportation network that can help drive our economy.”

The 2018 legislative session concludes on May 9.

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

Posted on April 25, 2018 by rjoslyn


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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.