State Agency Regulations Should Come with Fiscal Analysis

February 19, 2015

The following is Senator Tony Hwang’s testimony to the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee, which held a public hearing Feb. 13 on his proposed bill, SB 845:

Feb. 13, 2015

Esteemed members of the Government Administration and Elections Committee:

I am Senator Tony Hwang and I am here to testify in support of SB 845.

This bill would require a fiscal note for any newly proposed state agency regulation, and require a public hearing for those regulations that come with a cost to municipalities and businesses.

Let me start by stating emphatically: this is not some ill-conceived attempt to be an obstructionist or thwart the institution of necessary regulations. This is about equity, transparency and accountability.

In fact, this proposed bill would simply do for agency regulations what is already being done for proposed legislation – and that is to require a fiscal analysis of the application and administration of the law.

The time of this proposal could not be any more urgent, either. As we sit here today our municipal leaders are hard at work trying to balance their budgets amidst growing concern for the impact of property taxes, uncertainty surrounding state aid, and the many unfunded state mandates. Connecticut’s businesses, too, are operating in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, in a state that, unfortunately, has one of the highest costs of doing business in the country.

This bill will help. And it’s needed.

We’ve all heard the “no more unfunded state mandates” mantra, and it’s for good reason, considering that the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities estimates that there are more than 1,000 such mandates in place.

One of the most recent examples and exorbitant in terms of financial impact, however well-intentioned, is the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s proposed stormwater regulations, known as MS4. A CCM survey found that the proposed regulations would cost Connecticut towns nearly $82 million, or, on average, $1 million per town that responded to the survey.

While our state agencies like the DEEP have the best intentions and the interest of their respective jurisdictions in mind, the creation and application of any new regulations, policies or procedures has to take into account the cost.

Passage of this bill will help ensure that the creation of any new regulation strike the necessary balance between meeting the stated goal or objective with the cost to achieve it. I’d even go so far as to suggest that performing this analysis and having access to this information could ultimately lead to better policies and regulations, with more buy in from stakeholders, and, by extension, foster a more productive and less combative relationship between state and local government and the public we serve.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tony Hwang
State Senator, 28th District