From the Capitol: Eliminate Gimmicks, Spend Smarter

April 20, 2014

Connecticut’s economy is in trouble. Unemployment is high, tax burdens are overwhelming and the state continues to borrow money at an alarming rate. Democratic budget proposals do not solve any of these problems. Rather, they utilize gimmicks to hide huge spending. Minus the gimmicks, the Democratic budget would be over the spending cap and completely out of balance.

So what can we do to fix the outrageous spending and poor policies? Propose an alternative approach.

The Connecticut Senate and House Republicans unveiled an alternative budget adjustment that eliminates the Democratic gimmicks and restores funding to where we need it most. The Republican plan also reduces the deficit by $50 million over the next two years; a significant change compared to the Malloy proposal which increases the deficit by $250 million over the same period of time.

I support this proposed adjustment because it helps the people and communities that I care about. It eliminates the governor’s gimmicky proposed tax rebate and instead budgets for long term tax relief and programs that improve quality of life across the state.

It helps our families.

To further support families, the Republican plan would provide tax relief for everyone. It would accelerate restoration of the sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear under $50, making it more affordable to clothe your family. It would also eliminate the burdensome tax on non-prescription drugs.

The Republican plan also seeks to repeal keno. We do not need to rely on keno to create a balanced budget. Keno is a game that is severely detrimental to individuals and families and we should repeal it immediately.

It helps seniors.

The Republican budget adjustment proposes a phased-in exemption of all pensions from the income tax, starting at 5 percent. This will directly help those living on fixed incomes and make it easier for seniors to support themselves and live comfortably for years to come.

It also provides a cost of living increase for home health aides, helping to better support the caregivers seniors rely on in our communities.

It improves transportation.

In our district, the poor performance and safety issues that plague Metro-North need to be fixed. Over the past few years, $187 million of taxpayer money was raided from the Special Transportation Fund and used to fund other state projects. Moving these funds took vital resources away from transportation improvements. The Republican budget adjustment will restore millions to the Special Transportation Fund, and stop future raids.

It provides job relief.

The Republican plan increases funding for vocational education and grows the Manufacturing Apprentice Program. The plan also eliminates the surcharge businesses pay for interest on money borrowed for the state’s unemployment insurance fund. Eliminating this surcharge will provide relief to employers so they can focus their resources on creating jobs. Investing in these initiatives will reduce unemployment and move us in the right direction to improve our economy.

It supports healthcare.

Our plan helps those most in need of medical attention and care. It allocates millions for mental health initiatives. It also seeks to reduce client waitlists for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Waiver so our state can better serve those with disabilities and home-care needs. We also expand Medicaid coverage to more children with severe disabilities to protect families from going bankrupt paying for care and we incentivize doctors to accept Medicaid by providing funds to maintain increased primary care provider rates.

Additionally, we plan to return funding to the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund, which supports programs to reduce and prevent tobacco abuse and spread awareness about related health dangers.

It protects our children’s futures.

Overall, this plan prevents us from kicking the can down the road and passing our current fiscal problems down to our children. Surplus funds would be used to make $346 million in debt payments including paying off the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes that Democrats have delayed addressing. Instead of pushing these debts off until after elections, we fix the problem now, before the interest starts building up.

In the Republican alternative budget adjustment, our goal is to foster honest, smarter spending and to reprioritize important policy decisions. We have to change course today if we want to create a better Connecticut for years to come.