Letter: Republican Budget Works

September 24, 2017

Letter to the Editor as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory [Sept. 16, courant.com, Time For The Legislature To Get It Together].

This paper’s criticism of the bipartisan state budget moderate Democratsjoined Republicans to pass contained multiple mischaracterizations.

Republicans crafted a budget that, unlike the one proposed by Democrat leaders, includes the ideas of moderate Democrats, structural changes and protection of core services.

This budget does provide a solution to education funding inequities. It boosts funding and recommends a new formula that increases aid to poor towns with growing populations and decreases funding over time to wealthier towns declining in enrollment.

It is the only budget that stabilizes Connecticut’s transportation fund and increases transit dollars over 30 years with a fully funded plan.

It makes modest changes to labor contracts after 2027, legal reforms according to an attorney general opinion. It also relies upon the same actuaries employed by the governor to calculate these savings.

The budget provides $1 billion to UConn and initiates purchasing/contracting flexibility so the university can save money and enhance revenues. It does make cuts, such as not allowing employees’ children to get free tuition and asking professors to teach an additional class. It scales back an expensive administrative system so we can restore funding for core services including employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, substance abuse treatment to combat the opioid epidemic, Care4Kids, and the CT Home Care program.

This budget contains a $21 million increase in state aid to Hartford over two years on top of last year’s $271 million in total aid. Republican leaders have told Mayor Luke Bronin that we are open to further support, so long as Hartford can commit to responsible change.

The only way chaos can ensue now is if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy decides to veto this budget. We urge him to sign it.

– Sen. Paul Formica, East Lyme, and Rep. Melissa Ziobron, East Haddam 

The writers serve as Republican co-chair and ranking member of the General Assembly‘s budget writing committee.