Posted on January 22, 2018 by admin
By now, pretty much everyone knows about the amazing events of this past weekend where the Connecticut state legislature finally debated and passed a state budget.
The Democratic leadership finally called us in Thursday and then again on Friday to potentially vote on the budget they finally came up with after months of inaction – a budget that would have been so detrimental to the future of our state I find it hard to describe. Suffice it to say that it had billions of dollars in new spending and billions of dollars in new taxes on everything from hospitals, to cigarettes, to hotels, to uber rides, to cell phones, to eliminating the property tax credit, and also eliminating millions in funding to towns that would have led to enormous hikes in our property taxes.
In a remarkable and historic turn of events, instead of the Democrat budget being voted in, several brave Democrat legislators helped Republicans pass our version of the state budget – the same one that Democrat leaders have been blocking a debate and vote on since April!
We are all waiting now to see if Governor Malloy allows it to become the law in the state or will spitefully veto it.
Because I am receiving so many emails and questions about the content of this budget, I thought I would just say a few things about it.
First, remember the circumstances. It is now almost 3 most into the fiscal year. There is a $5 billion plus deficit and it’s clear to most everyone that the only way to save Connecticut is to get a handle on the ridiculous spending and taxes that have led to our economic problems.
The idea that this is supposed to be a perfect document is absurd. For me personally, I find it completely unfair to have to defend some of the things in it. I didn’t vote for any of Governor Malloy’s previous budgets or tax increases that have put us in the precarious position we find ourselves in now.
Of course, there are cuts and hard choices in this budget!! However, most of what I am hearing about are huge exaggerations, particularly with regard to the cuts to UCONN, the elimination of the public financing of election campaigns, and so called attacks on collective bargaining.
Remember that this budget raises NO taxes – not on real estate, not on cell phones, or gasoline, or cigarettes, or vacation homes, or any of the myriad of items that were proposed by Democrat leaders. We also do the most important thing which is to properly fund our towns for education aid for the next two years.
Under the Governor’s proposal, the towns I represent would have lost multiple millions of dollars which would have led to huge reductions to education, damaging schools and punishing teachers and staff, while increasing our property taxes by maybe hundreds of dollars for each property taxpayer.
This budget is actually remarkable in the way that it continues to protect the disabled community, seniors, and children considering the limited options available to us.
Of course there are things each of us will find to disagree with,” Sampson added. “There are things I absolutely do not like in this budget. However, a budget is a document that requires a majority of legislators to agree with before it can pass and therefore is going to be a blend of positive and what you don’t like but can live with. It’s not perfect, but it is the best and most responsible budget Connecticut has seen in a generation. Of course, I supported it.”
The bill has been sent to Governor Malloy’s desk. Although not confirmed, sources say that the governor is expected to veto the bill after it has been fully vetted.
Posted on December 27, 2017 by admin
Lately, following the news out of our state and federal governments has been more challenging than ever. It seems that name calling and maligning one’s political opponent’s character and intent has nearly fully replaced any type of respectful dialogue or difference of opinion.
Worse, much of the national press seems to have lost its way, assuming “its way” ever involved reporting news in a factual and objective way.
I entered politics because I care about the future of my country. I love history, especially American history, and even more, what America represents as an idea and a set of ideals – a place for full citizens to experience life in a land of opportunity and potential, willing to recognize that success requires effort, and even willing to take risks if they might mean reward. I chose the Republican Party because in today’s world, I felt it more closely represents those founding core American principles and ideas, promoting opportunity and freedom, requiring individual responsibility, and recognizing that government is necessary, but imperfect, and therefore should be as limited as possible.
Today, our country seems more divided than ever and what I have noticed that is most concerning is that the divisions seem to be based rhetoric, e.g. “tax cuts for the rich,” rather than a truthful breakdown of what each side is trying to accomplish by their policy offerings.
If my service as our State Representative has taught me anything, it’s that, generally speaking, politicians have much better hindsight than they do foresight.
Take this recent budget debate we had here in our state. If you have been following me, then you know I voted against the deal, primarily because I could see clearly that it would not even begin to solve our problems. We are already in another deficit! Also, as a policy document that highlights priorities, it makes little sense.
The day of the vote I spoke on the House floor and asked how and why we continue to spend money on bailing out our broken larger cities because of their failed policies at the expense of small, and better-managed, towns like Wolcott. Increasing taxes and spending will only exacerbate our problems. What we need instead is to send a legitimate and convincing message to citizens, businesses, and retirees that Connecticut is going to take a new and better path and it will pay off to be here.
Sadly, business as usual won the day and only 26 courageous souls out of 187 voted to stop the madness.
I predicted then that this budget would look worse every day that goes by. It wasn’t long after that the full impact of the cuts to the Medicare Savings Plan began to come into focus.
I went on the radio shortly after and pointed out the foolishness of wasting $40 million on renovating the XL center in Hartford at the same time we are driving business out of state, people from their homes, and seniors on fixed incomes into the poor house!
Thankfully in recent weeks, many of my fellow legislators have seen the light and realize that this needs to be corrected and the funding for the Medicare Savings Program must be restored.
Although the cuts have now been pushed from the first of the year to March 1, 2018, this is still a small amount of time to correct a growing problem. Ever since the vote, I have been pushing for a special session to do so and have been encouraging everyone who contacts me to make their voice heard in local papers, social media, etc.
Now, it seems to be working and there is a lot of talk about a potential special session to address this issue. It is my sincere hope that by the time you read this, the MSP will either have already been restored or is at least in the works.
This is just one of many issues to be addressed but if there is success, it will give me hope that the voice of the people still reigns supreme. Without that, we are certainly doomed.
Even with legislative action, we will still have to make it past the Governor, who seems determined to penalize small towns for their ability to manage themselves much more successfully than their larger city counterparts.
As always, I promise to be a persistent voice at the Capitol for common sense, fiscal sanity, and those American core values I mentioned earlier.
I encourage you to contact me anytime at www.repsampson.com.
Posted on November 27, 2017 by admin
If you have been following my previous columns, then you know that back in September, history was made in Connecticut’s General Assembly. For the first time in modern history, and perhaps ever, a minority party successfully passed their own budget proposal with members of the majority crossing over to provide bipartisan support. Both chambers of the state legislature finally passed a budget that, albeit not perfect, was fiscally responsible and would begin the process of implementing structural changes that Connecticut desperately needs.
The GOP plan accomplished a nearly impossible task. It balanced the state budget and erased a $3.5 billion deficit WITHOUT raising taxes or imposing new ones. It fully funded towns for education aid and included meaningful structural changes to state government. It also addressed labor costs despite the passage of the irresponsible SEBAC agreement crafted by the governor and approved by the majority party on a party line vote.
Assuming you read the papers, you probably know that Governor Malloy then vetoed this perfectly acceptable budget plan in favor of his executive order. As a result, towns and cities were left to suffer, fearing the potential of huge cuts in state aid that would upend their budgets and potentially force layoffs and property tax hikes.
Then on October 26, after months of negotiations, needless delays, and political posturing and foolishness, the General Assembly finally passed a state budget that was signed into law by the governor.
As I said the morning of the vote in my speech on the floor of the House, this budget was the result of that pressure and I felt that the desire to just “do something” got in the way of “doing something right and good.”
The document does accomplish some goals that Republicans, including me, have been fighting for, such as mandatory votes on labor contracts and a cap on future spending. Additionally, it successfully blocked some damaging tax proposals supported by the majority including increases on the sales and income taxes, and new proposals to tax restaurants, second homes and cell phones.
Many of the “good” components of this compromise budget branched from the Republican budget that passed in September. Unfortunately, it fails to go far enough to address the structural and long term financial problems we face as a state and because it also continues the failed approach of increased spending and taxes, I voted NO.
Sadly, this budget will not solve our problems and I fear that we will be back in no time addressing the same issues, along with continuing deficits and a lack of economic growth. The solutions necessary are much harder for many to face and until the state government has the courage to take the necessary actions, we will continue to falter.
We need to address structural problems, address out of control future pension obligations, and simply begin cutting spending and taxes.
I always describe our state budget as a collection of priorities and a blueprint for our future direction.
This budget cuts aid to education, to senior citizens, to the Medicare savings plan, and to town governments forcing them to raise property taxes. All this at the same time as it raises state income taxes, spends money on bailing out Hartford, and renovating the XL center. Those are priorities I cannot support. It also sends the worst possible message to those watching for Connecticut to bounce back.
To turn our state around, we need to make it clear to everyone – residents, businesses, seniors, college students, etc., that we intend to make it so you are not “better off” in South Carolina or Texas or Florida or even Massachusetts or New York – and that we are going to make Connecticut the smart decision no matter what your circumstances.
We must make Connecticut simply more competitive in all areas and this budget fails to make the difficult changes necessary or send the message that Connecticut is poised for recovery.
I want my constituents to know that I am proud to have kept my promise to never raise taxes, and to stand for the principles that have made America great – limited constitutional government, free markets, hard work, and personal responsibility, and I will continue to do so as long as I serve in office.
I urge you to watch my speech on the budget and to contact me anytime at www.repsampson.com.