State Senator McLachlan Casts “No” Vote on Latest Deficit Mitigation Package

March 4, 2009

Says Plan Fails to Make Legitimate Cuts to FY09 Deficit

Hartford, CT – State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury) cast a vote early Thursday morning in opposition of the most recent deficit mitigation package saying the Democratic majority’s plan fails to make legitimate cuts to address the projected $1.35 billion dollar budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 09 (FY09).

“I was happy to see this proposal didn’t raise taxes and I would have gladly cast a “Yes” vote on a legitimate mitigation package this week,” said Senator McLachlan. “But the simple truth is the package offered by Majority Democrats was toothless at best. It offered a number of cost-cutting measures but failed to explain how those cuts would be implemented.”

In their $1.2 billion dollar proposal, Democrats suggested they found $220 million in so-called off-budget accounts. What they didn’t explain, however, was that many of those accounts have already been swept of funds and some of them include funding that is restricted in its use. Their plan also relies on an estimated $49.2 million dollars in labor union concessions that have yet to be negotiated. In addition, the bill lacks any legislative language for their proposed state employee retirement incentive program which Democrats say will save $22 million dollars.

Senator McLachlan was also concerned with a component of the mitigation package which slashed $28 million dollars in the revolving bridge fund. The fund gives municipalities financial aid for bridge construction and modernization. The 24th District alone lost more than $2.5 million dollars in commitments: Danbury lost $2, 288, 483 million and Sherman lost $246, 126. However, Senator McLachlan is working with the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management to help find alternate sources of funding for projects where money has already been spent.

Senate Republicans offered a number of amendments which included language for mandatory furlough days for all state employees, legislator salary cuts and the language implementing that retirement incentive program. All amendments were defeated along party lines. All 12 Senators in the Republican Caucus then voted “No” on the mitigation package.

“This package is a real disappointment,” said Senator McLachlan. “We had an opportunity to make some real headway in closing this budget gap but the Majority party failed to make the tough choices. For weeks, Republicans have put forth a number of cuts for FY09 and had no reply from the Majority party. Now, unfortunately, I am afraid we may be forced to raid our Rainy Day Fund to cover the gap for the remainder of FY09. This could have been avoided if only the Majority Democrats had come to the table sooner.”