At approximately 10:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3, after a full day of debate, Rep. Piscopo voted in opposition to the Connecticut Democrat biennial budget, which ultimately passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 86-65. All Republicans and five Democrats, voted against the plan.
“I have heard over and over from constituents in my district that they cannot afford to live in Connecticut. Taxpayers are asking for relief, but instead they get a budget that squeezes them some more with new taxes,” said Rep. Piscopo, a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “Even though all of my Republican colleagues and I refused to support this budget, it still passed and unfortunately will have a negative impact on the most vulnerable citizens and businesses of this state.”
The Majority Party Democrats, in forcing this budget plan through the legislature, are increasing taxes by $1.75 billion over the next two years to fund a 5.3 percent increase in spending. Essentially, this is a $50 million tax hike on Connecticut businesses. There will be new taxes on plastic bags (10 cents), vehicle trade-ins, ride share services like Uber and Lyft (25-30 cents), alcohol, digital downloads and subscriptions like Netflix (6.35 percent), and prepared foods like restaurant meals (a new 1 percent tax on top of the current 6.35 percent tax). In addition, there is a new $5 charge on vehicle registration that will raise $8 million to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but only $3 million is going to rebates for zero emission vehicle purchases and $5 million is going into the General Fund.
“Connecticut is currently in a dire fiscal situation,” added Rep. Piscopo. “Although this budget includes some noteworthy additions, it does not implement enough long-term solutions to regain the state’s fiscal health without burdening taxpayers and businesses. I am disappointed that we could not come to a better agreement for the people of Connecticut.”
Republicans noted that this tactic of adding more taxes, instead of looking for spending cuts, is simply a continued failed approach employed by Former Governor Malloy. Legislative leaders are focused on their political and progressive goals, rather than the fiscal restraint and business-friendly environment that Connecticut needs for a sustainable future.
For years, Republicans have offered fully-vetted budget proposals that Democrats ignored. When the numbers across the aisle were more balanced in the House, Democrats were forced to listen and a bipartisan budget that pointed Connecticut in the right direction was passed just last year. This budget undoes much of the good in the bipartisan budget – like protection of the Special Transportation Fund (STF) – making it clear that there was no intention of negotiating a bipartisan deal.
Therefore, many amendments were proposed yesterday by Republicans to improve the budget but all were rejected on party-line votes. These amendments attempted to find budget savings to cut taxes, fully fund the STF, reduce teachers’ retirement tax burdens on future generations, review and renegotiate existing contracts for services, get rid of political earmarks, and reduce the number of state employees through attrition.
Unfortunately, the budget passed by the legislature fully funds elections with taxpayer dollars, increases taxes on everyone, maintains expensive contracts, refinances the teachers’ pension fund, and creates additional funding for state employee salaries – including bonuses for high-level attorneys.
This plan awaits a vote in the Senate.