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.
“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.”
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.
“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
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.
“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.
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.
State Representative Dave Yaccarino (R-87), voted in favor of S.B. 452, An Act Concerning the Inclusion of Holocaust and Genocide Education and Awareness in the Social Studies Curriculum.
The legislation seeks to include Holocaust and genocide education awareness in the social studies curriculum within public schools in our state.
“We have not previously done enough to educate our youth regarding history,” said Rep. Yaccarino. “We must be sure that an understanding of history is gained, so that they may know that the holocaust was one of the most horrendous instances of genocide. The reality is that it was not the first and will unfortunately not be the last. Education and understanding is key to prevention. We must do everything in our power to prevent this from happening in the future.”
According to the legislation, school districts would be permitted to avail themselves of existing and appropriate materials and resources, as well as accept gifts, grants and donations, designed for the development and implementation of Holocaust and genocide education and awareness.
The proposal has been endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). According to the ADL, 2017 was the highest single year increase in anti-Semitic acts since its first audit in 1979. Of the 1,986 incidents that occurred in the United States, 457 of them occurred in K-12 schools. This was a 94 percent increase from the previous year.
This bill would take effect for the upcoming school year beginning in the fall of 2018. Boards of Education are encouraged to utilize both existing material, public and private, as well as outside gifts, grants, donations and in-kind donations. Rep. Yaccarino and his colleagues in the legislature introduced and passed this legislation because they believe educating the public about these events is the most effective way to combat them in the future.
S.B. 452 passed the House unanimously and is now in concurrence with the Senate. The bill now awaits Governor Malloy’s signature.
HARTFORD – Today Republican lawmakers released their second complete balanced budget proposal this year to stabilize the state budget in fiscal year 2019 and beyond.
The revised Republican proposal takes into consideration the revised projected deficit, the impact of a delay in federal hospital reimbursements which will boost revenue in fiscal year 2019 by over $400 million, and the need to restore the Medicare Savings Program in full. This revised plan fully balances next year’s budget, reduces future deficits, restores funding for the core functions of government, and does not include any new tax increases. It also implements policies to achieve long-term savings to create stability and predictability in future years.
“While on paper it may appear that the state is suddenly flush with new cash in fiscal year 2019 as a result of the hospital deal delay, we cannot let the overspending mistakes of the past be repeated,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “We have to be responsible about how we budget if we want our state to grow, thrive and prosper. This budget proposal is about stabilization. We address the FY 2018 problem so we can focus on putting the state on the right path in FY 2019 and beyond. This revised Republican budget takes into account the revenue shift from 2018 to 2019 and manages this funding in a way that preserves core services without adding new unaffordable burdens onto our state. Year after year Connecticut has made promises it cannot afford to keep. This budget stops that practice. It gets our fiscal house in order today and puts Connecticut on a path to stability and predictability for generations to come.”
“This proposal not only balances the budget today, but results in significant long-term savings,” said House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby). “Instead of making new promises that the state cannot afford in future years, it resolves today’s issues, upholds the state’s commitments to vulnerable populations, and reduces Connecticut’s future deficits and unfunded liabilities.”
“We’ve taken into consideration feedback from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and we believe this revised budget is something both Republicans and Democrats can get behind as a pathway forward for our state,” said Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) and Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-East Haddam), co-chair and ranking member of the state’s Appropriations Committee.
Recognizing the impact of the hospital deal delay and updated numbers, this revised budget would restore additional funding to core services beyond the initial Republican budget proposed in the Appropriations Committee. It would allow for full restoration of the Medicare Savings Program, additional funding for the Retired Teachers’ Health Care Fund, and eliminate certain savings that were criticized by Democrats in an effort to build consensus and garner bipartisan support. In addition, it contains no new tax increases, results in a surplus in fiscal year 2019 of $17 million, and contains policy recommendations that reduce the fiscal year 2020 deficit by $800 million.
After mitigating the fiscal year 2018 deficit utilizing revenue in the state’s budget reserve fund, this plan will still leave the state’s rainy day fund with $864.5 million at the end of fiscal year 2019.
HARTFORD – The costly Hartford assistance deal signed off on by Gov. Malloy has raised questions concerning the state bond cap and how Connecticut will account for the $534 million in city debt it has assumed for the next two decades.
RESTORES FUNDING FOR CORE SERVICES, PROVIDES STABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY
HARTFORD – Republican lawmakers today announced that the Appropriations Committee will hold a vote on a state budget proposal offered by Republican legislators.
The Republican proposal fully balances the fiscal year 2019 budget and eliminates the projected $321.5 million deficit. It includes policies to address the state’s long term unfunded liabilities and put the state on a path toward stability and predictability. Instead of spending one-time revenue or relying on massive tax increases, it upholds the principles of the volatility cap agreed to in the bipartisan budget to stop the practice of relying on unpredictable revenue and making promises the state cannot afford. It fully funds the Special Transportation Fund, restores funding for the Medicare Savings Program, and eliminates many of the governor’s proposals to increase taxes and drastically reduce education funding and municipal aid.