Posted on September 18, 2017 by Michael Downes
Republican budget finally called in House – Passes with bipartisan vote
State Representatives Tom O’Dea (R-125) and Fred Wilms (R-142) were in Hartford Friday for a second day in a row to vote on a biennial budget for the State of Connecticut after the House failed to go in to take up a Democratic budget that had been negotiated with Governor Malloy. Earlier that day, the State Senate passed the House and Senate Republican budget with a surprise bipartisan vote including three Democrats.
The Republican budget moved to the State House of Representatives where five Democrats joined all 72 Republicans to pass the GOP No-Tax-Increase budget 77-73.
“Tonight we took the first step to turning this state around and reversing our economic decline that has been driven by constant tax hikes,” said Rep. O’Dea. “By passing this no-tax-increase budget tonight, we have begun the journey back. We made the tough choices we know are needed to get this state moving in the right direction. I thank the Democrats in the Senate and the House who had the courage to join with us to make this budget a bipartisan reality.”
“Tonight we witnessed two historic votes,” said Rep. Wilms. “The Senate’s bipartisan action to pass the Republican budget was echoed by the House, and we now have a balanced plan awaiting the governor’s signature. This is a real victory for our residents, businesses and local governments. We have a plan that erases a $3.5 billion deficit without new or increased taxes, and protects municipal aid to New Canaan. If the budget becomes law, we have a real opportunity to bring real change to Connecticut and encourage long-term investment in this state.”
Since early Spring, legislative Republicans have rolled out various balanced budgets that preserved essential state services while implementing no new tax increases. Each time legislative Democrats, who hold a narrow majority, blocked those budgets from being brought to a vote. In the meantime, the governor has been running the state through executive orders in the absence of a budget.
House and Senate Republicans unveiled this new budget proposal earlier this week. In addition to holding the line on taxes the budget:
Increases Education Funding
Increases education funding and includes a new ECS formula to fairly distribute aid as well as a council to analyze and make any necessary changes to the new formula within the next year.
Municipal Support and Mandate Relief
Flat funds or increases funding for all municipalities over the biennium. Stabilizes municipal aid and does not ask towns and cities to pay for teacher retirement costs. Also includes significant municipal mandate relief.
Funds Core Social Services
Restores funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need. Fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reopens Care4Kids, etc.
Prioritizes the state’s transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls or new taxes. Implements the Republican Prioritize Progress transportation funding plan and stabilizes the state’s Special Transportation Plan.
Lowers taxes for retirees by eliminating tax on social security for middle class families and phases out pension income tax for those with incomes below a specified threshold. Helps seniors age in place by restoring and increasing funding for core programs and supports such as Meals on Wheels, the personal needs allowance, non-ADA dial a ride, and the CT Home Care Program.
Funds State Parks & Tourism
Enhances funding for state parks/tourism without raising taxes by implementing a new Passport to Parks program and dedicating a portion of the current hotel occupancy tax to a new Marketing, Culture & Tourism account.
Reduces Size of Government
Implements 10% reductions to certain agency accounts, overtime savings of 10%, a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions, and makes cuts to the legislature such as reducing the number of legislative committees.
Includes Structural Changes
Changes include a spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and other long-term savings. Implements pension reform beginning in 2027 after the recently approved SEBAC contract ends.