My April Editorial: Making Sense of the State Budget

Posted on April 5, 2024


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We can all agree that talking about the state budget can be confusing, unfamiliar and boring. Although dull, it’s a critical conversation our lawmakers have each year that can make or break our spending habits and ability to confidently fund necessary programs.

Adjusting the state budget affects the money in your wallet. Current bipartisan fiscal guardrails are at risk of being eliminated, making it easier for our government to spend too much money and easily fall into debt.

When I was young, I was taught the value of a dollar, and back then a dollar went a long way. To this day I still make a budget when shopping for essentials, like eggs, chicken and gasoline, which back then could all be bought with a dollar. Now, a dollar’s value reflects an economy defined by inflation, taxes, skyrocketing costs and high interest rates. This prompts Connecticut organizations and agencies to desire more funding.

To wisely tackle our financial needs, the General Assembly inserted what’s known as “fiscal guardrails” into their 2017 bipartisan budget. Today, they continue to serve as a “spending cap” that encourages us to fund statewide programs while also paying down long-term debt. Since then, Connecticut has applied these guardrails to recent budgets, helping us build our rainy-day fund, obtain a surplus, reduce our deficit and confidently navigate the pandemic.

Recently, majority party leaders have called for a retreat from these guardrails despite their success in implementing smarter spending habits for our state. This year alone, proposed spending increases total over $500 million, and now, patterns of requesting more money without any spending caps scarily dominates our budget talks.

This year, 26 legislative committees have heard testimony from hundreds of organizations competing for funding. For example, higher education officials threatened raising tuition and fees while cutting faculty jobs if their requests weren’t met. Another example, promoted by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, calls for more funding for student nutrition programs for middle- and low-income families.

While I support the nature of these proposals, they irresponsibly request more funding before exhausting existing funds or reevaluating their spending habits to reflect their needs. In the case of the higher education officials who wanted millions more, maybe they could shift their own million-dollar salaries to reduce overall education prices and curb student debt. For those who wish to increase student nutrition funding, maybe they should recognize that most school districts still have millions in American Rescue Plan Act money to support their cause.

My childhood taught me that to build a stable budget, you can’t spend money you don’t have. But many of these organizations haven’t done their homework. It’s critical to demand more fiscal transparency so that we can ensure money is well spent before we ask for more. That’s why elected officials have respected our fiscal guardrails for almost a decade: although it requires making sacrifices, it protects us from overspending and allows us to spend responsibly – just as my parents taught me.

Looking ahead, I am calling on my colleagues to take a step back and think about the vital services our state needs instead of pushing their individual agendas. Priorities such as public safety, health, education, nonprofits and affordability need to replace risky budget increases so that we can support our nonprofits, first responders, students, teachers and the middle-class residents who make up the backbone of Connecticut.

As we move forward with budget adjustments, I encourage you to reach out to me with your questions, ideas and concerns at or at 860-240-8700. I also suggest following me on Facebook and subscribing to my brief email updates at