So, here we are; the biennial state budget. As per tradition, majority Democrats finally gave us a copy of the 567 page document… just over 12 hours before debate officially began in the House. The budget passed in the House without a single Republican vote.
It’s not unusual for us to receive copies of important documents, such as the budget, moments before a vote. Last minute changes to legislation are common, hence the short notice, but this is not entirely by coincidence. The less time we have to review the proposal, the less time we have to come up with questions to ask Democratic leadership on the floor. It’s a strategy to pass bills quickly and with minimal opposition. Nevertheless, House Republicans did their due diligence and during the course of the debate we introduced several amendments in an attempt to create a bipartisan bill. Unfortunately, our amendments failed along party-line votes. The final product was yet another continuation of business-as-usual for the State of Connecticut – more taxes.
The budget was merely the capstone of a session characterized by anti-business legislation and poor economic policies. Three weeks ago, we told businesses they would have to pay entry-level employees $15/hour. Last week, Democratic in the House and Senate passed a bill creating a 0.5% payroll tax for all Connecticut workers. This week, we passed another budget swarming with tax increases. Sadly, at this rate, a special session for highway tolls is surely on the horizon for the summer.
I find the minimum wage particularly interesting. The idea behind it was to increase the standard of living for all Connecticut workers and to get most individuals closer to a “living wage.” In Connecticut, with all the tax increases we’ve seen this year and in years prior, the “living wage” has become more and more out of reach for thousands. While the Democrats have made well-intended attempts to improve the quality of life for their constituents, their unbreakable tax-and-spend habits have made the cost of living in Connecticut far above the national average.
Currently, the minimum wage is $10.10/hour. Even with a nearly $5/hour increase by 2023, the value of those dollars will continue to decline with the implementation of new taxes on every resident across the state. Where the majority giveth, they taketh away. Unfortunately, once the budget and these bills go into effect, many more will feel like they’re making minimum wage.
Here’s a brief glimpse of our state’s new two-year spending and revenue game plan – a new one percent meal tax on prepared food in grocery stores and restaurants; a new one percent tax on sodas, beverages, and alcohol dispensed at bars or fountains; new taxes on digital downloads, safety apparel, parking, plastic bags, interior design services, dry cleaning, and e-cigarette products at wholesale. You can also expect an increased tax on ride-sharing, vehicle trade-ins, alcoholic beverages, and increased filing fees on LLCs and LLPs. For those with small businesses, be prepared for a tax increase on pass-through entities. Oh, by the way, the lockbox you voted on last November – the one that was supposed to protect transportation revenue – will be raided once again as the majority has voted to divert money away from the Special Transportation Fund before it even gets there.
These will be used to pay our state’s exorbitant fixed costs, such as state employee pensions and other fringe benefits, we simply cannot afford.
Speaking of pensions, the budget has another surprise. Our teacher pension obligations (bonds we took out against the teacher pension fund), were supposed to be paid off by 2032. The majority, in an attempt to cover-up their short-term fiscal shortfalls, have chosen to extend those repayments to 2046. To put that in numerical terms, we are looking at an additional $27 billion to be paid by future generations – our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The take away for my fellow residents of the 70th district – majority Democrats voted to raise your taxes, and I voted no.
To my colleagues who supported this budget, just remember, your constituents get what you vote for.