Making Progress Toward Creating A Better Connecticut

April 20, 2010

Finally, the General Assembly is making progress toward addressing Connecticut’s troublesome fiscal situation. As you have most likely heard by now, Governor Rell signed the recently adopted deficit mitigation plan to significantly reduce the $350 million deficit projected for this fiscal year.

The good news about our new deficit mitigation plan is that it does not call for raising taxes or cutting state funding for municipalities. Instead, it relies on spending cuts, fund transfers and additional federal revenue. Of course, not everyone likes everything included in the deficit mitigation plan. However, legislators from both parties understood that passing a workable plan required all of us to make difficult decisions that simply could not please everybody.

Now, we legislators just have to work together to adopt a responsible state budget that avoids the $736 million deficit projected for Fiscal Year 2011 and the $3 billion deficit projected for Fiscal Year 2012. The fact that we at long last managed to reach an agreement regarding the existing projected deficit makes me optimistic about our chances for adopting a balanced budget for next year – hopefully by the time the legislative session ends on May 5th.

Last week, we Republican legislators unveiled our proposal for passing a balanced state budget that would avoid next year’s projected $736 million deficit without raising taxes. Our proposal calls for consolidating government agencies, reducing the state workforce and dedicating $74.5 million to job growth initiatives. Furthermore, adopting the Republican proposal would allow us to preserve state funding for municipalities and local public schools.

Of course, just like the newly adopted deficit mitigation plan, not everything in the Republican budget proposal will please everyone. However, the savings are impressive. For example, we would cut $58 million from various line items to lower spending to 2009 levels. We would save $64 million through an early retirement program for state workers, along with $10 million by consolidating state agencies; $6.4 million by getting rid of certain state office leases; $20 million by privatizing certain state functions; $150 million by securing additional concessions from state workers; and $3.8 million by cutting legislators’ pay, and eliminating our mailing privileges and travel.

Adopting a balanced state budget that produces such impressive savings would allow the state to make significant, necessary, investments. For example, our proposal calls for restoring $200 million in previously cancelled contributions to state employee pensions; saving Connecticut companies $32 million by eliminating the annual Business Entity tax; creating a $25 million Small Business Revolving Loan Fund; and making available up to $17.5 million in tax credits for companies that hire off the unemployment rolls.

The bottom line is that Connecticut’s already over burdened residents and businesses cannot afford to continue paying for a state government that has grown too big and too expensive. It took the General Assembly much too long to seriously address this year’s budget deficit – and we simply do not have the luxury of putting off our obligation to address the fiscal problems awaiting us in the new fiscal year. Last week, we legislators proved that we can put aside partisan differences to do what is right for Connecticut. Now, we have to build upon our success in passing a responsible deficit mitigation plan for this year in order to pass a responsible state budget for next year.

As always, I want to hear your views. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected].