Senator Welch, Representative Betts Host Plymouth Town Hall Meeting

April 20, 2011
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Republicans’ town hall message: ‘We’re broke’

Story as it appeared in the Bristol Press

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
PLYMOUTH — “We aren’t going broke, we are broke,” state Rep. Whit Betts told the audience at a Tuesday night town hall meeting.

“We might as well start accepting that fact and start dealing with this in a realistic way,” he said.

Betts, R-78th District, and state Sen. Jason Welch, R-31st District, held a town hall meeting Tuesday to present the state Republicans’ alternative to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget.

About 60 people attended the meeting at Town Hall, many periodically applauding statements by the two freshman legislators.

Earlier in the day, Republican state legislative leaders had unveiled a balanced state budget proposal for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 with no tax increases.

Welch went through a slide show explaining the rationale for the alternative budget. In the past 25 years, Connecticut had a 9 percent growth in population, while inflation rose almost 91 percent and state spending grew by 287.5 percent, he said.

The gap between spending and revenue will grow in the next two years, leaving a projected deficit of $3.2 billion for 2012, and then $2.9 billion for 2013, Welch continued.

The governor’s budget proposal would deal with that through $1.5 billion in tax increases, $1 billion in anticipated state employee concessions and proposed net spending reductions, he said.

However, the governor would actually increase spending about $400 million, he’s simply paring back spending increases proposed by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, according to Welch.

When the two legislators were campaigning last fall, Betts said, “what we heard very loud, very clear, at virtually every single town hall meeting, was no tax increases. Absolutely under no circumstances is anybody really in a position to be able to pay an increase in taxes.”

“The second thing we heard was we’ve all made sacrifices, it’s time for the government to downsize itself,” he added.

He went over the highlights of the Republicans’ alternative budget — no new taxes, more than $1.5 billion in spending cuts from Malloy’s plan, preservation of municipal aid at current levels, enhanced Medicaid fraud detection to save an estimated $224 million, more than $46 million saved by state agency consolidations and downsizing the state work force by about 2,500 people through attrition and other reductions.

The highlights also include: no borrowing for state operating expenses, fully restoring the $500 property tax cut proposed by the governor, pre-payment of $200 million in the state’s highest cost debt, restoration of the sales tax free week and elimination of longevity payments for state employees.