HARTFORD – State Representative Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown) voted in favor of a state budget compromise that protects Newtown’s essential state Educational Cost Sharing and Municipal Revenue Sharing grants for all of 2019, without raising taxes or implementing the Governor’s costly and unpopular plan to enact electronic tolling on state highways. The Compromise deal was struck in the waning hours of the 2018 session, culminating in a vote, first in the Senate, then in the House.
In addition to no new taxes or tolls, the bi-partisan compromise maintains or advances funding for mental health and critical social service programs for our state’s most vulnerable populations, rescinding earlier cuts made by the Governor. Rep. Bolinsky and the House Republicans were successful in achieving most of their major proposed policy objectives, including those. However, like any good compromise, a couple of items that were important did not make it in the final document, like the proposal to apply about $300-Million to begin paying down part of the state’s Teachers’ Retirement Program debt and another $300-Million toward the State Employees’ Retirement Program debt. An objective that will be re-introduced next year.
According to Bolinsky, “This compromise budget is one that is very positive for towns like Newtown because it keeps us whole and allows our town to budget with a sense of confidence, unlike 2017, when the state budget was four-months late and we were at the whim of the Governor’s executive orders. When combined with House and Senate passage of another bill I co-sponsored rescinding the Governor’s authority to make unilateral, mid-term cuts to education and town aid dollars, I am excited to have removed the added uncertainty of unscheduled state cuts and holdbacks.”
“This budget also undoes many of the draconian cuts from the start of the 2018 legislative session, in February. It restores transportation projects and operations, frozen by the Governor in February, by re-appropriating existing state resources to unlock critical highway projects. This will green-light Newtown’s improvements to the corridor around I-84’s Exit 11, lower Wasserman Way, Route 34 and Toddy Hill Road, and other important infrastructure projects. It rescinds earlier service cuts and fare increases to transit operations like Danbury Metro North train, HART bus and SweetHART Para-Transit services and so much more. While this is in no way, shape or form a perfect budget, it represents a quality, bi-partisan compromise that moves the state forward and fulfills our commitments to children, seniors and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Just a few House Republican policy wins in this year’s budget include:
- Fully funding the state’s Medicare Savings Program.
- Restoring full funding for the Retired Teachers Health program.
- $5-million allocation for emergency placements for Department of Developmental Services patients.
- Reduce Energy Efficiency Fund sweeps by $10 million.
- $9.5-million allocation for cost of living increases for private social-service providers.
- $29-million addition to the Special Transportation Fund by re-directing current new car taxes to STF, accelerating the existing tax on new cars.
- A hiring freeze on new state employees to save $7-million.
- Maintaining the integrity of Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap and borrowing caps support the need to reel-in state spending and bonding, as well as becoming more efficient and responsive to, what Bolinsky refers to as, its 3.5-million “customers” through structural reforms.
Rep. Bolinsky concluded, “Our state continues to underperform in this ongoing fiscal crisis. Ultimately, we must turn up the heat on structural reforms and reinvent Connecticut as a more efficient, more disciplined state that spends only what it has. We can’t go back to the taxpayers every year with more taxes, fees, tolls and borrowing to fill budget holes of our own making. I think the message is resonating at the Capitol. Reform our free-spending ways. Balance our budgets. No new taxes. Take care of our most vulnerable. Prosper and grow.”
The compromise budget cleared the House with a veto-proof majority vote of 142-8. It also passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and now heads to the Governor for his action.