A Budget With Red Flags

Posted on May 16, 2022


Connecticut has a biennial budget process. This means we set a two-year budget for the state, so there really should be no need for budget discussions in the short session. In practice, this “budget adjustments” year was just as intense and crazy as last year when we were putting together the two-year budget.

The budget adjustment is related to FY23 only. The $24.2 billion state budget document dropped at 4 a.m. on Monday with a scheduled vote later that day. Not a lot of time to digest 484 sections and 673 pages.

It is being billed as “one of the largest tax cuts in CT history.” Still, it increased spending by more than half-a-billion-dollars from FY23 original to FY23 revised. That’s $574 million or 6.4% more in spending.

Highlights:

* Funds new contract with state workers union, SEBAC, worth $2 Billion

* Makes $3.5 Billion supplemental payment against massive pension debt (good!)

* New $250 per child tax credit for low- and middle-income households, up to max $750, only one-time-credit for FY23 (rather than one-time tax credits, permanent broad-based tax CUTS are better! Let people keep more of their own earnings, rather than have the state government send out a check…stop the illusion that $$ comes from the government.)

* Expands property tax credit from $200 to $300 for low-and middle-income taxpayers

* Lowers cap on municipal taxes on cars for only 75 municipalities

* Suspends 25-cent gas tax until Dec 1, 2022

* Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit to 41.5%. Current rate is 30%.

* Repeals movie theater 6% admissions tax (so many odd fees and taxes here and there!)

* Boosted state grants to non-profits, but only for one-time. (Good! but problem is that our non-profits are becoming reliant on state grants. We need a thriving private sector so we the people can support non-profits!)

* Total state grants for Greenwich are unchanged at about $2.66 Million

* Total state grants for Stamford went up slightly to about $28.67 Million

Red Flags:

EQUITY OF OUTCOMES: New requirement for the Governor to guide our state’s economy based on ensuring equity. Equity is defined as “any efforts, regulations, policies, programs, standards, processes or any functions of government…to: identify and remedy past and present patterns of discrimination or inequality against and disparities in OUTCOME for any class protected in chapter 814c…” (all caps are mine). Here is 814c so you can see protected classes in Connecticut.

My thoughts: Equity is about equal outcomes. This is a major red flag for our state’s economy to be guided by policies for equal outcomes. See section 92 in the budget.

STATE HEALTHCARE FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS: Expansion of existing program for healthcare for undocumented children from age 8 to now age 12, grandfathered up to age 19 years. They will now be able to receive state-paid healthcare services, HUSKY B. See info on HUSKY programs here.

My thoughts: This bill failed in the Human Services committee along bi-partisan lines. I’m told it was a very controversial bill in committee and it died there because of opposition from both sides of the aisle. Yet, it was tucked into the budget and passed anyways. This is no way to govern. Why have committees, then? In my floor speech, I mention other considerations when it comes to the population of undocumented migrants in our state. See section 234-235 in budget.

FREE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS IN MEN’S RESTROOM IN ALL CT SCHOOLS: New mandate for all school districts in CT schools for grades 3 to 12. “Free” menstrual products in all restrooms for Women and All Gender, and in one Men’s bathroom in each school.

My thoughts: Another unfunded mandate that all boards of education will now have to grapple with. A potential headache for school custodians. Perplexity for boys who will now find pads and tampons in at least one of their bathrooms. See section 84 in the budget.

MANDATED CLIMATE CHANGE CURRICULUM: We are now changing “may study climate change” to “shall study climate change.” Under education statutes, there are a lot of topics that we mandate, like Holocaust and genocide education (which some Greenwich parents have brought to my attention because their young children are reading too much about examples of genocide around the world), history of the Great Famine of Ireland (which when I asked a veteran legislator about this, I was told it’s because many years ago there was a passionately Irish legislator who wanted this), labor history and law, including organized labor, the collective bargaining process and more. And now climate change is added.

My thoughts: Our state mandates all schools to use one climate change course from the “Next Generation Science Standards.” In regards to other state science standards, NGSS standards are considered the strongest in its integration of human-influenced climate change. And that’s the potential problem that I see. A school curriculum that might advocate for drastic changes in economic policies is a red flag re: politicization of science education for all our children. Why can’t boards of education choose for themselves which climate change curriculum they want to use? See section 265-266 in the budget.

GENDER DYSPHORIA NOW INCLUDED UNDER REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE SERVICES: This part of the budget was an amendment to the H.B. 5414 abortion bill that just passed. This language on gender dysphoria, the condition of being distressed because one feels they are in the wrong body, for example, a boy feels like he is actually a girl, or vice versa, is totally new and did not receive a public hearing. Now, in CT statutes, reproductive health care services definition will include “all medical care relating to treatment of gender dysphoria.”

My thoughts: There is risk now that children can be treated as gender dysphoric without the child’s parents being told about this. In CT, there is no requirement for parental notification for reproductive health services. An outside adult can take your minor to get an abortion, and now, it will include gender-related healthcare. This is not good public policy. Our state government should first support the family unit and see parents as the primary decision-makers and care-givers of children, period. There are parents who neglect and abuse their own children; we have existing state services to help those children at risk. Bypassing parents should not be the first premise of state laws, like it is now. We must restore parental rights in CT. See section 196 in the budget.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: This budget bill is more spending. It’s more about tax credits, than tax cuts. There is also plenty of pork for particular districts. But no media will tell you about the progressive ideological items in this bill. This is a woke budget. Budget experts I’ve talked to have told me they have never seen so many ideological items like this in a budget before.

You can read the budget bill here and see my speech on the House floor below.

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