Posted on January 18, 2019 by Greg MacKinnon
CROMWELL – Three House Republicans participated in the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast. The legislators, State Reps. Christie Carpino (R-Cromwell), Devin Carney (R-Old Lyme), and Jesse MacLachlan (R-Westbrook) were invited by the chamber to answer general questions about how the legislature can help local businesses and the potential impact of the state budget on the economy.
The discussion covered many topics including the prospect of implementing electronic tolls, tourism funding, and identifying potential private-public partnerships within the nonprofit community.
According to the House Republicans in attendance, despite the projected surplus at the end of the current fiscal year there are massive out year deficits that balloon into the billions. In order to combat the potential budget shortfall in the near future, the legislature must find ways to help small businesses grow and prosper.
Many House Republican Caucus proposals will strengthen the economy by increasing employment opportunities for people recovering from substance abuse issues. Additional proposals like requiring inter-agency reporting of fraud, or identifying services provided by certain state agencies that could be privatized, will also alleviate many of the concerns raised by chamber members.
Posted on January 17, 2019 by admin
HARTFORD – Seniors will gain relief from having to fill out paperwork on their pensions under a House Republican proposal to get rid of a 2017 law that requires pension administrators to withhold taxes throughout the year, Leader Themis Klarides said today.
Many low-income seniors have previously not had to file tax returns because they fell below the minimum level to do so. Now, even if they do not want to withhold taxes throughout the year they still have to file paperwork and this has created confusion.
“We have heard from a lot of our seniors that are not used to filing any taxes or paperwork to receive their pensions because they don’t receive a lot of money. They feel burdened by the paperwork, either to withhold taxes throughout the year, or to receive a refund at the end,” Klarides said. The proposed legislation would simply revert to the previous system that allowed pensioners to decide whether to withhold taxes.
Klarides said it makes sense to give the seniors who are already struggling day-to-day with their household finances the option, rather than requiring pension administrators to make the withholdings.
Posted on January 8, 2019 by admin
HARTFORD – House Republicans today challenged Democratic lawmakers to address the state’s continuing fiscal woes and rein in spending before they consider raising taxes on commuters, payrolls, job creators and consumers as a number of leading Democrats have hinted at.
House Republicans said every facet of the state budget must be addressed because of the looming $4 billion deficit Connecticut faces. They said tolls, legalized marijuana, sports betting, hiking the minimum wage and paid family leave – initiatives certain to come up – all pose significant problems as currently contemplated.
“Revenue grabs – whether it is higher tax rates, tolls, sports gambling or recreational marijuana – will not solve our underlying financial problems. They are caused by spiraling personnel costs and the growth of government that we cannot afford,’’ House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said. “Implementing those revenue initiatives outside of the overall budget debate will not work, and we would not support them in that context because there are significant rippling social and fiscal consequences associated with each.’’
Klarides said she is looking forward to working from a clean slate during the legislative session with incoming Governor Lamont and a new legislature. Republicans cited numerous workplace practices and government spending that must be re-set or eliminated before any government service is expanded. The goal is to reduce the costs of government and cut out fraud and waste.
Posted on December 3, 2018 by admin
As we prepare for opening day in January, the Fiscal Stability Commission, a group of business leaders charged with recommending budget fixes, and the Office of Fiscal Analysis, a non-partisan agency that provides financial data, presented the budget projects for Connecticut’s future. Both agree that Connecticut is in very difficult financial shape and has not recovered from the recession of 2008.
While many of the suburbs voted for change, Connecticut has returned one party rule to Hartford. Because a tie no longer exists in the Senate and the numbers are not as close in the House, I am concerned that bipartisan budget talks may not come to fruition. In the House, representatives have created a Progressive Caucus with 45 members, roughly half of the Democrat party. They are promoting a more progressive tax code where higher income earners will pay more taxes. Connecticut tried that in 2010 and lost billions of tax revenue over the past decade as wealthy residents and businesses moved out of the state. In fact, Governor Malloy’s budget secretary points out that Connecticut’s projected demographics over the next decade show a nine percent decrease in our population aged 45 to 64. Those individuals are our highest income tax payers. In the past five years, our highest income growth industries have averaged roughly only one percent growth per year, and our fiscal agencies are predicting another recession on the horizon.
On a brighter note, the bipartisan budget that passed last session created some constraints on spending that will help the state going forward, and I hope they remain in place. We placed a hard cap on borrowing so the state cannot borrow over $1.9 billion per year. We statutorily created a spending cap, which automatically restricts the amount of spending growth permitted in a budget. We imposed a cap on revenue and “volatility” which essentially takes income tax revenue in excess of $3.15 billion and places it in the Rainy Day Fund. Under this bipartisan budget, Connecticut has already saved over $1.7 billion in its Rainy Day Fund, the highest in history.
Last week, I met with Governor-elect Lamont. I believe he understands the dire state of affairs. With United Technologies splitting into three companies and Aetna merging with CVS, Connecticut must demonstrate to our business community that we are poised to do better. The Progressive Caucus’ proposals seeking to expand government and taxes are coming at the wrong time. With government budgetary fixed costs at over 51 percent, Connecticut needs to focus on growing the economy. In our meeting, Governor-elect Lamont expressed his desire to work on a bipartisan basis and he shares our concerns over not achieving a balanced budget within the session deadline. While each group offers solutions to fix the problem, I hope we come together with meaningful dialogue and put forth another bipartisan solution.
The aforementioned statement is an opinion by Deputy House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora, who represents the 86th General Assembly District, which includes Durham, Guilford, North Branford and Wallingford.
Posted on September 4, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today pointed to an auditors’ report that highlights failures to account for the time some Corrections Department union stewards spent attending to union business and undocumented overtime and compensation time within the system.
The report raises questions over the magnitude of the unaccounted for time because the auditors typically sample only small portions of payroll data within any state agency, Klarides said.
“This audit puts a spotlight on policies that permit the union stewards to conduct union activities such as grievance hearings on the taxpayers’ dime. The state employees are entitled to union representation to deal with workplace issues but the stewards should be paid by the unions for that work,’’ Klarides said.
The lack of documentation , “increases the risk of unauthorized union leave,’’ the auditors wrote.
Republicans have put forth budget proposals in the past to require that the stewards be paid by union dues for the activities outside of the workplace.
The auditors sampled 40 instances of Union Release Time/Union Business Leave forms and all 40 were not filled out correctly or did not provide enough detail to determine what activities had taken place. The auditors also noted that overall 201 union stewards within corrections amassed 28,449 hours representing fellow workers at a cost of $894,000 to taxpayers.
When it comes to overtime and compensation time, the auditors also noted overtime was not properly documented in some instances. In three out of 10 instances the auditors said, “Compensatory time was not earned and approved in accordance with established policies.’’
Corrections overtime costs increased in one year from $62 million to $72 million, according to the office of fiscal analysis.
Posted on July 31, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – Today, over a dozen members of the House and Senate Republicans sent letters to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan urging the Republican leaders to support amendments from U.S. Senators Christopher Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney that will provide help to homeowners living with a crumbling foundation.
The Connecticut House and Senate Republican members are asking for Republican leaders in Washington D.C. to pass the following amendments.
House Amendment 881 to H.R. 6147 seeks to provide funding for the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a map showing pyrrhotite occurrences across the United States. This would help to ensure residents of other states never have to grapple with this crisis in the future.
House Amendment 292 to H.R. 3354 seeks to provide funding in the Community Development Block Grant program to examine the application of grant funds to mitigate and remediate the effects of pyrrhotite-related damage.
House Amendment 934 to H.R. 6147 seeks to provide funding within the Department of the Treasury, Departmental Office towards a study, led by Treasury with the participation of relevant regulators, to examine the financial impact of the mineral pyrrhotite in concrete home foundations. The study would provide recommendations on regulatory and legislative actions needed to help mitigate the impact on banks, mortgage lenders, tax revenues, and homeowners.
Click below to view letters.
Posted on July 30, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – All 71 House Republicans have submitted signed petitions calling for a special legislative session to address the $10 Million toll study that Gov. Malloy and Democrats approved last week with an eye toward re-installing tolls in Connecticut.
Posted on July 25, 2018 by admin
HARTFORD – Gov. Malloy and the Democrats on the State Bond Commission who voted to spend $10 million on a dubious toll study thwarted the will of the legislature and people of the state in approving the expenditure, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said today.
Klarides said Republican lawmakers are gathering signatures for a petition drive to call the legislature back into session and halt the expenditure. Republicans on the commission voted against the $10 million expenditure.
“The legislature purposefully rejected any effort to advance tolls during the regular session. Now a lame duck governor goes around the legislature and against the will of the people of the state in the last months that he is in office,’’ Klarides said. “And Democrats on the Bond Commission did not have the backbone to stop it.’’ She added that the dispute over tolls underscores a lack of leadership on the part of Democrats, from the governor’s office to the legislature.
Republicans need just a few Democrats to join the petition effort to force the special session. A majority of both chambers of the legislature is required to have lawmakers return to Hartford this summer.
Klarides said the public does not support the tolls or the study and when they learn that one previous toll report called for as many as 78 tolling areas in Connecticut support will plummet even more. She pointed out that when tolls were removed from state roads and highways in 1985, there were just 14 tolls.
Republicans have proposed spending $63 billion on road and bridge projects in their Prioritize Progress transportation plan over the next 30 years without raising gas taxes or implementing tolls. Republicans propose dedicating gas taxes for transportation projects only and not raiding the Special Transportation Fund.
Posted on July 17, 2018 by admin
“Borrowing millions to study how tolls would impact commuters is frivolous if not ridiculous. We’ve seen other studies, we’ve heard from consultants. We already know the answer to the question he’s asking: it’s going to make it even more expensive to live in Connecticut. Republicans have spelled out how we’d fix roads and bridges—by prioritizing existing dollars. For those who view tolls as some sort of magic solution, it’s time to put a reasonable and concrete plan forward. They should tell us how much it’ll cost everyone, and where you’ll trim government to save money elsewhere. But, clearly, this governor’s new pursuit to spend millions we don’t have as he heads for the exit door shows he has no interest in cutting costs. History has shown the governor does whatever he wants. Taxpayers of this state can’t afford to subsidize whatever costly whims he decides to pursue over the next few months. What’s next? The installation of new judges we neither need nor can afford. We’ve had enough.”