On Saturday, September 16th, a bipartisan state budget passed the House and the Senate that is not revenue driven, rejects the governor’s drastic education cuts to more than 85 municipalities, and protects funding to core social services.
In these challenging budget times, no budget is perfect but government has to start living within its means, and our budget recognizes this fact. We close the $3.5 billion deficit not by asking taxpayers’ for more but by prioritizing spending and reshaping the size of government.
We made the decision in our budget to end taxpayer funded political campaigns. The Citizens Election Program has become unsustainable and is expected to cost taxpayers $50 million during the next election cycle. The $50 million that would have been used by political candidates to buy lawn signs and campaign buttons will now be used to support core services of government, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment and school funding.
Another priority of our budget is reducing the size of government by implementing a 10% reduction to certain agencies, reducing overtime, halting hiring of non-24 hour non-union positions, and cutting the number of legislative committees.
The bipartisan budget actually makes structural changes that will stabilize the state’s finances. The budget includes a spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and pension reforms that will lead to long term savings.
Our budget also prioritizes transportation spending providing $62 billion to transportation over 30 years without new taxes or tolls. And we don’t sweep any funding from the Special Transportation Fund.
We also decided to come up with a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding Judge Meskill’s court decision, enrollment, poverty and wealth. We dedicated $33.6 million more to education in FY 2018 and $136.6 million more in FY 2019. Once fully implemented over 10 years, the state will be spending $678.7 million more on education funding under this proposal. No town receives less in ECS and special education than they did in FY 2017. No town receives less in total funding over the biennium.
You may hear inaccurate statements about our budget that are being tossed around by legislators who didn’t support the bipartisan plan. One statement that is being tossed around is that Republicans are decimating UConn, this is false. Our budget provides UConn with $1 billion in state aid, instead of 1.2 billion. While this is a cut of approximately 17%, this budget also for the first time allows for purchasing and contracting flexibility so the university can save money and enhance revenues in other ways that do not rely on taxpayer dollars. UConn still has an extremely healthy budget and now even greater flexibility to attain funding in ways that do not overly burden taxpayers.
It is important that you visit our website, www.cthousegop.com/budget, to review the full bipartisan budget. There are currently a lot of falsehoods being thrown around about our budget, and I ask that you contact me at Lezlye.Zupkus@housegop.ct.gov or call 860-240-8700 with any questions you may have.
The budget is now waiting for the governor’s signature, but the governor is threating to veto the bipartisan budget solution. If the governor decides to veto the budget, it looks like his reckless cuts to our municipalities and children’s education will become reality. I urge you to call the governor’s office to tell him to sign the bipartisan budget that addresses the state’s fiscal crisis and will result in a better future for Connecticut.
Rep. Lezlye Zupkus