The Speaker called us into a special session on the Monday following Thanksgiving to take urgent action on the potential sunset of the gas tax holiday, increasing funding to the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, continuing free bus fare, and funding essential worker “hero pay” for efforts put forth in the throes of the pandemic. These are all important topics to debate and ultimately provide more funding to, but we fell short of the goal line and New Milford’s residents will pay the price.
I voted in support of the lone piece of legislation we discussed during special session. This bill, however, did not include diesel in the gas tax holiday and does not provide sufficient energy relief. When given the opportunity to amend the bill, the partisanship that lies in Hartford reared its ugly head and concepts to improve the underlying bill were voted down. While the bill today helps, it falls far short of the help our state desperately needs.
At the end of session, House Republicans offered a renewed call for a subsequent special session to address the shortfalls of the legislation that had just been passed. The motion to re-convene was a voice vote. Unfortunately, the motion was quite literally voted down by a screaming “NO” from across the aisle.
The state continues to post surpluses in the Rainy Day Fund (also known as a budget reserve account), and it goes without saying the clouds are thickening as inflation continues to take its toll. Today’s action helped some, which is critical, but it did not do enough. I will continue to fight to bring those funds back into the pockets of all residents who need it most, instead of the state sitting on piles of cash.
In recent weeks, consumers were made aware that Eversource and United Illuminating will be increasing their supply rates. Residents will see their bills increasing by an average of $85 per billing cycle. This alarming figure was not addressed during special session – a pressing increase to the cost of living that will impact the entire state.
I want consumers in Connecticut to know that there are some options to lower their electricity bills. You can review rates on EnergizeCT (click here) and apply for a third-party electricity supplier. I encourage you to check out the rates and to pick a supplier that fits your needs and could potentially help you save on your monthly electricity costs.
Looking ahead to the upcoming session, I will continue to suggest ways that will lower Connecticut’s living costs. Specifically, prioritizing existing resources to increase eligibility to energy relief programs. As a result of the legislature’s actions in special session, the gas tax holiday will continue, home heating assistance will be readily available, and some who went above and beyond during COVID-19 will receive compensation for those efforts.
To learn more about these issues, I encourage you to visit my website at RepBuckbee.com, and to sign-up for my electronic newsletter.
–Rep. Buckbee, 67th District – New Milford