Sen. Hwang: Gov. Malloy’s Budget Cuts Represent ‘Misplaced Priorities’

September 23, 2015

State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s announcement that he has ordered a $103 million rescission to the state budget – including $63.4 million in funding to hospitals – less than three months into the new fiscal year:

“We can blame Wall Street volatility all we want. We can talk about the $52 million in state taxpayer-funded aid for the Bridgewater hedge fund till we’re blue in the face. And lament the looming loss of GE and other businesses. But the reality is that we need to make fundamental reforms to the way we tax and spend in Connecticut, because right now, our priorities are so far out of touch with reality. It’s no wonder people think of government as the problem instead of the solution.”

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“My Republican colleagues in the legislature and I knew that Gov. Malloy and the Democratic leadership’s budget was severely flawed on many levels, including the overly rosy revenue projections that necessitated the governor’s rescissions, and that’s why we voted against it in the first place. Now here we are less than three months into the fiscal year and we’re starting to see just how bad their budget really is.”

“I have long said our state has a spending problem – even the most recent budget represents a 7% increase over two years – yet I have always maintained that we can get our spending in control without sacrificing the critical services we provide to the residents of Connecticut, if we have the courage to make the truly difficult decisions.”

“Yet once again, the governor has targeted our state’s most vulnerable residents instead of looking inward. If we need to make cuts – and clearly we do – then why can’t we rein in the excessive state employee overtime spending (the new budget allocates more than $200 million for overtime), or hold off on the hiring of 134 new employees as the budget calls for (those 134 new state employees will cost us $143.5 million in 2016 and $186 million in 2017)?”

“Instead, Gov. Malloy orders cuts to the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Education, including a big hit to our regional technical high school system, among others. The largest chunk, regrettably, is a devastating cut to our hospitals to the tune of $63.4 million (see the attached report for a hospital-by-hospital breakdown), which actually equals nearly $200 million when factoring in the loss of federal matching dollars – and is on top of the cuts the hospitals already experienced in the budget.”

“Make no mistake, the cuts to hospitals will negatively impact the delivery of healthcare and patient outcomes, lead to job cuts and hurt Connecticut’s economy. Our hospitals are vital to the health and well-being of our communities, especially when taking into account the care they provide at no cost to our most vulnerable residents.”

“This is a serious case of misplaced priorities. I can only hope the governor and Democratic legislative leadership heed Republican calls for a special session so that we can repair the damage that has just inflicted on the people of Connecticut, before it is too late.”