Posted on May 5, 2014 by admin
In a long Saturday session in the final days leading up to adjournment, State Representative Rob Sampson (R-80) voted against an approximately $19 billion state budget agreement between Governor Dannel P. Malloy and majority Democrat lawmakers that is fraught with unexplained revenues and one-time gimmicks to achieve fictional balance. It relies on phantom revenues while creating a $2.9 billion deficit for the next two-year budget cycle.
Earlier this week consensus revenues between the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) showed a precipitous drop in anticipated tax revue to the state by approximately $460 million. This forced Democrats to abandon plans to fully fund the state employee pension fund and send a $55 rebate check to each taxpayer just before Governor Malloy stands for re-election. The new plan also repeals plans to allow the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to introduce keno as a lottery game, a measure passed last year that was unpopular with state residents.
To help buoy the deflating revenue estimates of the budget, Democrats resorted to relying on a last-minute revelation of $75 million in “miscellaneous revenue.” When pressed as to where this newfound windfall was expected to come from, Democrat leadership indicated that they expected to collect the funds from delinquent taxpayers.
“Many things are unbelievable in this budget, but claiming that chronic long-term delinquent taxpayers will suddenly cough up their taxes to the tune of $75 million is especially hard to take seriously,” said Rep. Sampson. “The revenue projections are entirely suspect, as the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis refuses to confirm that projection – something that I have never seen before. They are showing tremendous increases in lines like the conveyance tax revenue. This would make you think there are a lot of homes being bought and sold, and as a realtor I can tell you that their projections are extremely ambitious.”
Democrats are postponing the reinstatement the sales tax exemption for clothing and footwear until July 1, 2015, and the sales tax exemption on non-prescription drugs to April 1, 2015. It also moved the tax exemption for teachers’ pensions to out years.
The Democrats’ budget claims $20 million in unspecified hiring reductions, using $30 million of one-time surplus, reducing fund to the Transportation Fund which pays for road and bridge upkeep, and moving $5.8 million in expenditures to bonding. They also managed to make the budget appear balanced on paper by moving numerous items outside of the General Fund.
Sampson joined his Republican colleagues in supporting a transparent alternative budget adjustment which was balanced. It included saving $5.6 million through a hard hiring freeze, banned travel by state employees, and reduced the legislature’s budget by $5 million while not adding to the projected $1 billion budget deficit. The Republican budget plan restored funding to critical programs such as re-dedicating $18.4 million to the Special Transportation Fund, and $19.6 million to the Clean Energy Fund which had been removed by Democrats. It also restored essential Public Education and Governmental Programming and Educational Technology Investment Account (PEGPETIA) funding.
“If there is anything positive coming out of this budget, it’s that the pressure we put on Democrats since February to increase Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds and municipal aid has paid off,” said Rep. Sampson.
The Republican adjustments were offered as an amendment, and they were defeated on a party-line vote of 92-52.