Posted on March 19, 2019 by admin
HARTFORD – On February 20, the legislature was called in to hear Governor Lamont budget proposal as he addressed the House and Senate in a joint session.
State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-Madison), Deputy Republican Leader At-Large and a member of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding Governor Lamont’s budget proposal and the Majority Party’s reluctance to bring up union concessions:
“It’s hard to believe that we have reached the second half of the 2019 session, but here we are. After 8 years serving as your state representative, I must let you know that I have real concerns for our state’s future and its impact on small towns like Durham and Madison. I think you know that I have been proud to have always been a fair and bipartisan voice in approaching everything here in Hartford. Today that is very hard to continue doing. Like all of you I wished our new governor the best. We all needed him to be successful and to lead Connecticut out of crisis. But instead, Governor Lamont’s budget revealed poorly thought out proposals like moving the states responsibilities to our small towns, taking away promised tax relief for our senior citizens and working against our small businesses. As I listened to his budget presentation last month I was surprised by what was in it and also what was not. I have to admit that I was disappointed to find that the governor’s proposal included just about every controversial idea that both sides of the aisle had already considered, and then rejected over the past five years. One would think that after running to be the governor three times, Governor Lamont would have presented the legislature with some new ideas on ways to tackle the state’s current fiscal crisis. During my nine years of serving as state representative of the 101st District, I have first-hand observed the ups and downs, and through it all I have remained hopeful and devoted to doing my part to turn this state around. I must admit that the current status of our state and the various proposals being introduced this legislative session have me concerned – to say the least. Taking into account Connecticut’s budget woes and the continued tax-and-spend mentality of the Majority party, we are in dire need of strong leadership and true direction in order to return to the powerhouse we once were. Based on Governor Lamont’s budget address, I am not entirely convinced that he is ready or able to tackle this endeavor. The legislature listened anxiously as the governor spoke regarding the gravity of the state’s financial situation, but then minutes later the Majority Party unanimously voted to approve these overly generous union contracts – completely ignoring an opportunity to go in a different direction by considering the taxpayers of this state. The irony of this scenario was blatant. Part of my role as a legislator is to be an advocate and not an obstacle for taxpayers, which is why I voted “No”. The two newly negotiated collective bargain contracts of Connecticut’s newest unions would cover Public Defenders and Judicial Professional employees. On that day following the governor’s address, the Majority Party voted that these unions would be given significant additional wages and fringe benefits over their normal increases that total $1.5M in 2020 and $3M in 2021. This included a 3.5 percent wage increase each year over the next 2 years, increased longevity payments, 9 weeks paid vacation immediately for new employees and additional fringe benefits. It is clear that the union negotiated very hard for their new members, but it does not appear that anyone was negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers. I voted against this contract while every member of the Majority Party voted for this, and the measure was approved. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that hard working state workers deserve a fair and thoughtful contract, but we must also consider the middle class taxpayers who are struggling to pay for something they can’t afford for themselves. This is about honesty and fairness, as well as unions having so much control that taxpayers are being overlooked and neglected. I am very worried about who exactly is going to support the taxpayers.”
Rep. Kokoruda can be reached by phone at 800-842-1423 or by email at Noreen.Kokoruda@housegop.ct.gov.