OPINION: A New Budget Cycle Begins…

Posted on December 3, 2018 by admin


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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. 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides: Audit Raises Questions over Corrections Union Stewards’ Duties, Overtime, Comp Time

Posted on September 4, 2018 by admin


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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.

House and Senate Republicans Urge President, Republican Leaders to Support Crumbling Foundation Legislation

Posted on July 31, 2018 by admin


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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.

http://www.cthousegop.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HonorablePaulRyan.pdf

http://www.cthousegop.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/President-Donald-J.-Trump.pdf

http://www.cthousegop.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Honorable-Mitch-McConnell.pdf

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House Republicans File Petitions for Special Session to Address $10 Million Toll Study

Posted on July 30, 2018 by admin


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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.

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House Republican Leader Themis Klarides Blasts Malloy, Democrats for Wasting $10 Million on Toll Study

Posted on July 25, 2018 by admin


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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.

Click below to listen to comments from Rep. Chris Davis, Ranking Member on Finance, Revenue and Bonding, during the Bond Commission meeting.

 

House GOP Leader Klarides Responds to Gov. Malloy’s Pursuit of Tolls Study

Posted on July 17, 2018 by admin


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“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.”

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides Calls on Democrats to Aid in Blocking Cuts to Senior Meals

Posted on June 14, 2018 by Admin


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HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today called upon Democrats to join in efforts to block Gov. Malloy’s scheduled cut of $2 million from senior meals programs when the legislature convenes in a veto session June 25.

Malloy wants to cut the money to help balance the state budget.

“Of all the places the Governor could have chosen to make these cuts he picked out a vital program that feeds the elderly and needy. There are other items he could have selected that make more sense and would not directly affect such a large and vulnerable population,’’ Klarides said.

The legislature, in passing a bipartisan budget last month, purposefully limited the Governor’s authority to make targeted cuts or “lapses’’ as they are known, including such areas as municipal aid, education and fire schools. Included in the budget was a $9.5 million unspecified lapse that Malloy is required to put in place to help balance the budget.

Klarides suggested several areas could be cut instead. She noted that there is more than $400 million in administrative costs across dozens of state agencies and that a reduction of .5 percent would equal the $2 million Malloy intends to take from nutrition accounts. The legislature specifically added $2 million to the meals program accounts in the final version of the budget.

Klarides also said that the state is going to spend $4.1 million this year on marketing, and that state employee union stewards get paid $3 million a year to conduct union business on the taxpayers’ dime.

“We are asking Democrats to join us in passing legislation when we convene for the veto session June 25,’’ Klarides said. Once the veto session is concluded the legislature can call itself into another session to deal with the nutrition programs cuts that will go into effect if no action is taken.

Statement from House GOP Leader Klarides on Gov. Malloy’s Veto of Legislation Securing Education Funding for Towns and Cities

Posted on June 4, 2018 by admin


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“The punitive and spiteful actions that Gov. Malloy took in cutting school funding for towns and cities after the bipartisan budget was passed warranted the protections the legislature enacted this spring. The veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate that supported our actions are evidence that the Governor is on the wrong side of this issue.”

– Statement from House Republican Leader Themis Klarides on Gov. Malloy’s Veto of Legislation Securing Education Funding for Towns and Cities

House Republicans Want Hearings on Audits Showing Abuse, Waste and Conflicts

Posted on May 30, 2018 by Admin


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HARTFORD – In the wake of more auditors’ reports detailing state agency abuse, wasteful spending and hiring as well conflicts in questionable payments to vendors, House Republicans today called upon committees overseeing the departments to conduct hearings toward resolving the ongoing controversies.

“The sheer magnitude of government mismanagement and questionable spending and hiring practices within state government has been repeatedly highlighted by the auditors in their oversight reports,’’ House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said. “Last year we succeeded in giving the proper legislative committees the authority to formally review these egregious practices within six months. Some of those deadlines have already passed and we need to act.’’

The provision Republicans inserted into the budget last fall allows for the oversight committees to conduct a review of the auditors’ reports within 180 days after they have been submitted. The hearing deadlines for three departments, Veterans’ Affairs, the Connecticut State University System and the Division of Criminal Justice will have expired by today with no action haven been taken on the reports.

Klarides has written to the leaders of the other caucuses, Republican and Democrat, and the chairs of the legislative committees that have gone past the deadlines to convene public hearings to address the auditor reports.

“These audits are very insightful and point out major policy changes that need to be made in the way money is spent and people are hired. It appears that taxpayer money has apparently been misused. The reports cannot just sit gathering dust in some state office,’’ Klarides said.

Klarides noted that last week the auditors pointed out that the UConn Health Center gave raises to employees who approved a contract for a the interim head of the center, rehired retirees who worked longer than they should have according to executive fiats, and paid some employees more than they should have, according to their contracts.

Klarides noted that some of the auditor’s findings have been repeated for various agencies meaning that the problems have not been properly addressed.

Republicans Offer Budget Revision in Effort to Unite Lawmakers

Posted on May 8, 2018 by admin


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HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) and Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) announced their plans to call a revised Republican budget for a vote before the General Assembly. The Republican budget was revised early today to restore coverage for 13,000 low income working parents on HUSKY A.

“We have revised our budget multiple times over the past month to try to bring both parties together. We have also tried to work with Democrats on a single negotiated plan. However, it has become clear that Democrat legislative leaders would rather resolve just a few items in the short term than work on a budget that truly meets the needs of our state. We are hopeful that this updated budget can unite lawmakers before the legislative session ends,” said Senator Fasano and Representative Klarides.

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