Greenwich’s Republican delegation praises, criticizes Malloy’s budget proposal [Greenwich Time]

February 23, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Greenwich Time

Gov. Dannel Malloy unveiled his budget for Connecticut on Wednesday; Greenwich’s legislators say their response is one of “cautious optimism.”

Greenwich’s delegation to the General Assembly, State reps. Livy Floren, R-149th, Michael Boccioni, R-150th, and Fred Camillo, R-151st, issued a joint statement praising some aspects of Malloy’s budget, particularly the proposed 30-year transportation improvement plan, even with its total $100 billion price tag.

Malloy’s transportation plan includes money for widening Interstate 95 in southwestern Connecticut, improved bus service and $32 million worth of rail service upgrades.

The three, part of the state’s Republican minority, also praised the governor’s education vision.

“The governor’s budget proposal was visionary,” Floren said. “It was big and it was bold. Living within our revenue means and under the spending cap while level funding Education Cost sharing grants is a laudable goal, as is providing kindergarten for all students. However, this is just a first step, a blueprint. Now the heavy lifting begins as the legislature works to iron out the myriad details.”

The budget did not make any mention of tolls, a possibility Greenwich’s delegation opposes. A border toll between New York and Connecticut, they said, would transfer drivers from the highway to Greenwich’s roads and make local driving nearly impossible.

Boccioni said he was worried about paying for the road improvements, since the proposal didn’t address that.

“I hope that the governor will consider the plan we released last week which will provide the funds for these transportation projects to become reality,” he said.

The three also praised Malloy’s plan to lower the state tax but criticized ending some sales tax exemptions, particularly on clothing and footwear. Cutting some of the sales tax, they said, hurts lower- and middle-income residents.

Malloy’s plan “continues to put Connecticut’s finances at risk and will further hurt businesses in a state that is already the most unfavorable toward them,” their statement said.

“What we need is relief for the people of Connecticut whose wallets are constantly getting lighter,” Camillo said. “While lowering the sales tax seems great, the reality is that this is actually a tax increase because the exemptions are eliminated. Still, I applaud the governor for finally agreeing to eliminate the Business Entity Tax, which has long been a Republican objective, and for his focus on a transportation road map, even if the details are not apparent at this point.”

Sharper criticism came from State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, who said that the proposal continued to burden state residents with spending and a lack of tax relief. He said that Malloy should have taken the opportunity to lower taxes “meaningfully” to create new jobs and economic growth.

“When so many other states have reduced taxes and have done so because they have been fiscally prudent over the last three to four years, I continue to worry that Connecticut will continue down a road of budgetary uncertainty. We are once again looking at increases of about 3 percent per year for the next two years while we should be looking at a zero percent increase or, even better, a reduced budget based on the projected $2.8 billion deficit.”