Senate Republican Budget Provides Blueprint for Negotiations

May 17, 2017

For months, you have heard me sound the alarm about the financial crisis in Connecticut. Runaway spending and continuous proposals for newer and higher taxes have led the state to see a substantial reduction in revenue collections and the fourth bonding downgrade in a year.

As the seriousness of the situation settles over the state capitol, four budget proposals were released this week. Each proposes various remedies for the closing the estimated $5.2 billion budget deficit expected from reduced revenue receipts over the next two years.

The Governor’s proposed budget cuts $241 million and continues his proposal to have cities and towns pay $400 million for state-negotiated teach pensions. It also eliminates $60 million in payments to municipalities from the casinos, reinstates the sales tax on non-prescription drugs, and increases the real estate conveyance tax on the sale of homes costing $800,000 or more.

The budget proposed by House and Senate Democrats proposes raiding the Special Transportation Fund, legalizes recreational marijuana, and expands casino gaming in the state. It also seeks to reinstate tolls on Connecticut highways and is almost entirely focused on finding new sources of revenue rather than reducing spending.

I am happy to report that the Senate Republican budget proposal closes the deficit without tax increases, does not reduce funding for municipalities, and increases education funding under a new ECS formula. Our plan also is the only plan that implements the “Prioritize Progress” transportation plan that provides $62 billion to transportation over 30 years without new taxes or tolls. It also makes policy changes so that the Special Transportation Fund is made solvent.

Another important aspect of our proposal is maintaining the tax-exempt status for our nonprofit hospitals, helping ensure they can stay open to serve the people in our communities. We also restore funding for social services and protect funds for services and programs that benefit those most in need.

The Senate Republican budget contains the important structural changes that will end the cycle of budget deficits. It provides taxpayers, municipalities, and businesses with the predictability and assurance of financial stability that will help our economy grow. Our budget contains the changes that give all taxpayers a reason to stay in Connecticut.

We now enter negotiations showing that a no-tax, responsible budget can be accomplished. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will see this as the right way to move forward.

Senator Toni Boucher (R-26)_ represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.