HARTFORD — A budget proposal was approved last week that didn’t go far enough in addressing the major fiscal problems that plague Connecticut, state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus said.
While the two-year budget included positive change in the area of municipal mandate reform, the inclusion of some tax hikes and fee increases, along with borrowing money to bail out Hartford and $40 million for the XL Center sends the wrong message to Connecticut taxpayers.
“The budget reduces funding to our communities, yet throws money at cities that over and over have demonstrated their unwillingness to get its fiscal house in order,” said Zupkus, who in September voted for a bipartisan budget supported by municipal officials that fully funded school districts in her community — a budget the governor eventually vetoed. “We’ve heard over and over that we can’t fix Connecticut’s problems by increasing taxes — the current economic climate is proof of that, yet this budget does just that. We’ve got to point our state in a different direction, and I think we’ll have that chance soon because it won’t be very long until my colleagues and I are back in Hartford trying to get it back in balance.”
Zupkus said she would have preferred a stronger effort to override the governor’s veto of the bipartisan budget adopted in September. The budget passed in September was a fiscally sound budget that didn’t spend unnecessary money and made greater structural changes.
Rep. Zupkus also questioned a deal that was made in the East Windsor Casino agreement to give $750,000 each to Bridgeport, East Hartford, Hartford, Ellington, Enfield, New Haven, Norwalk, South Windsor, Waterbury, and Windsor Locks.
“These backroom deals are the reason our state is in a fiscal crisis,” added Rep. Zupkus. “We are giving millions to towns and cities to allow for a casino that may never get built. This proves that we could have gone deeper in the recently passed budget to tighten out-of-control state spending.”
Zupkus, however, credited her colleagues’ efforts in reaching their compromise deal. Their menu of options was severely limited, she said, because of the state employee union agreement vote that was held late in the summer. In a party line vote, and before they even offered a budget proposal of their own, the legislature’s Democrat majority gave a 10 year no-layoff deal to state employees that fell far short of achieving the savings our state sorely needs.
“They took a huge piece of the budget off the table, leaving us options such as cutting library or day programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Zupkus said. “That vote set this state back years, and it made the job of this legislature more difficult for years to come.”