Posted on June 19, 2019 by admin
House Republican Deputy Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) and Deputy Republican Leader At-Large Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) released the following statement regarding the 2019 legislative session and events that transpired in the House of Representatives.
“Many changes came to Connecticut as a result of a new administration and newly-elected legislature. A new progressive caucus of approximately 45 legislators emerged hailing reforms, such as an increase to minimum wage, paid family medical leave, free college tuition, legalized marijuana, and capital gains taxes. What did Connecticut’s struggling residents get instead? A budget with many new sales taxes on products and services, increased taxes on meals and alcohol, and more taxes for small businesses as they try to absorb major labor cost increases. As if the new taxes don’t hurt enough, our struggling families will now be paying ½ percent out of their paychecks to fund the “paid” family medical leave program that may never get implemented; and an opt-out “one size fits all” state retirement plan will take another 3% from after-tax pay. The budget also refinanced pension debt assuring our children and grandchildren with an unsustainable bill and costing an additional $15.6 billion, and tolls still threaten the horizon. So much for a progressive caucus that helps the downtrodden. If we had to sum up this session, it would be that the experience was like walking through a fun house. As we emerged back to civilization, there were no words to explain how it felt other than that the experience was not a pleasant one.
One of the cornerstones to good government is transparency. The budget trampled on that sacred ground. Not only was there no transparency within the budget process, but the budget itself was a flat out attack on the taxpayers and small businesses of this state with excessive new contracts and rats. In mid-April, Governor Lamont lauded a $100 million donation from the Dalio Foundation for education purposes. As the weeks passed, no further details emerged. No public hearings, no legislation, until, surprise, it appeared in the budget. The budget creates a private corporation known as “The Partnership for Connecticut, Inc.” into which $20 million of donations from the Dalio Foundation will be deposited, along with $20 million dollars of taxpayer money. The law reads, “The corporation shall not be construed to be a department, institution, public agency, public instrumentality or political subdivision of the state, or to perform any governmental function.” Education has always been a critical topic that we have advocated for, but it doesn’t appear that Governor Lamont shares these same views. He has let nearly six months go by without naming a new Education Commissioner, but yet he created loopholes in the budget and appointed winners and losers – actions speak louder than words and his actions say a lot about where his priorities lie.
It wasn’t long ago when the legislature engaged in long, protracted debates over whether to protect the crime-scene pictures of the Sandy Hook tragedy from disclosure under our Freedom of Information Act. Members passionately struggled between protecting families from emotional harm and the public’s right to information. Ultimately, the legislature voted to carve out a privacy protection under very limited circumstances. As Republicans called an amendment to subject this corporation to transparency, we expected the same protracted dialogue: the need to keep tax dollar expenditures transparent, to subject the corporate board – made up of public officials – to open and public meetings, and to maintain this principle of good government. We were wrong. Not a word, not a justification; merely a party line vote where Democrats, like magicians, pulled the curtain across $300 million and poof, it’s gone from public view. Connecticut is not a model for progressiveness; it’s become a model for plutocracy.”