Southeast Connecticut Republican Lawmakers Release Revised No-Tax-Increase Budget

September 14, 2017

Hartford – Today local State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) along with local State Representatives Ziobron, McCarty, Cheeseman and Siegrist joined together to release a revised two-year state budget proposal with no new taxes that would put a stop to the governor’s executive order, restore funding for education and core social services, and provide stability for towns and cities.

The revised budget proposal offered by Senate and House Republicans includes no tax increases and rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities that would further burden municipalities and lead to increased property taxes. The Republican budget proposal combines elements of the Senate and House Republicans’ multiple prior budget proposals released earlier this year, feedback from Democrat lawmakers and the governor, and factors in the legislature’s passage of the state employee labor concessions deal that is now law.

“Connecticut needs a state budget that does not increase taxes, that fairly funds education and protects school aid, and that includes long-term policy changes to achieve savings over many years to come. Republican lawmakers are united on this proposal that does just that and more to build a brighter future for our state. We hope that Democrat rank and file lawmakers will join us in pursuing the changes we need to restore confidence in our state and move Connecticut forward,” said Sen. Formica.

How many times are democrats going to ask Connecticut residents to give more of their hard-earned paychecks? How many times are democrats going to turn a blind eye to the fact that our state is facing one of the greatest financial and budgetary challenges, ever? How many times are democrat leaders going to be fiscally irresponsible with the finances of our great state,” said Sen. Somers. “This cycle of bad fiscal policies stop here, it stops with yet another Republican Budget, a budget that doesn’t raise taxes – a balanced budget proposal that prioritizes education, transportation and services for individuals with disabilities. We fairly fund education with a real formula and we create the stability that our cities and towns need – we create the stability that you, the taxpayer deserves. I am proud today to be a Republican in Connecticut, to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem of democrat fiscal irresponsibility that has plagued our state for too long. Today I stand with my fellow Republicans as we send a message that it is not too late to pursue change, it is not too late to change our fiscal fate.”

“Without raising taxes, the budget we proposed today makes long-term structural changes to Connecticut government while fully funding important services for our most needy residents and providing relief for local municipalities and taxpayers,” Rep. Ziobron said. “We remain committed to reducing the pressure on already overburdened taxpayers without resorting to draconian cuts that eviscerate needed social programs. Instead, our plan focuses on making targeted cuts and eliminating inefficiencies.”

“The Republican budget proposal moves Connecticut forward and improves the quality of life for Southeastern Connecticut and all of Connecticut’s citizens without raising taxes,” said Rep. McCarty. “The budget increases aid to education, offers relief to towns and municipalities and protects our hospitals. I am pleased that it fully funds day and employment services for individuals with disability and mental health services. It also prioritizes our important tourism industry and implements the Passports to Parks program to restore funding to treasured state parks, such as Harkness. Finally, it funds necessary programs for seniors, like the CT Home Care Program and Meals on Wheels. These are the changes and services needed in our state to support the citizens of every community.”

“I am proud to join with my Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate to support our proposed budget,” said Rep. Holly Cheeseman. “For too long the state has failed to prioritize spending in accordance with the major issues facing Connecticut, and our residents and businesses have suffered as a result. This budget recognizes the fiscal challenges faced by the state and addresses them in a truly responsible manner: by protecting the most vulnerable, creating a real formula for education funding and supporting our municipalities. Perhaps even more importantly, this budget proposes the kind of real structural changes needed for a sustainable and prosperous future. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join me in voting for this budget. Together we can create the future our citizens, and future citizens, deserve.”

Rep. Robert Siegrist said, “As elected representatives of the residents of Connecticut, we have an obligation to work together to come to an agreement for a budget that will benefit the future of this state. As many of my colleagues have, I too canceled vacation over the summer in hopes to vote on a budget. It is time that we do our job that we were elected to do, for the great people of Connecticut.”

No New Taxes

The revised Republican budget contains no new taxes. It does not increase or expand the sales tax, hospital tax or income tax. It also rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities as such a policy change would likely result in property tax increases.

Reduces Taxes

The Republican budget enacts two policies that will reduce taxes for retirees by phasing in a tax exemption for Social Security and pension income for middle income families. In addition, the Republican budget also restores the entire $200 property tax credit for all qualifying families and individuals. Under Governor Malloy’s tenure this tax credit has been reduced from $500 and we believe that property owners deserve a break on their taxes.

Increases Education Funding

The Republican budget rejects the governor’s devastating education cuts contained in his budget proposal and executive order entirely. It instead includes a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding recent court decisions, enrollment, poverty, wealth and number of English Language Learners, among other factors. This budget dedicates $33.6 million more to education in FY 2018 and $136.6 million more in FY 2019 and phases in a new formula over 10 years. It also establishes a council to analyze and make any necessary changes to the new formula within the next year if deemed necessary.  In 2018 all towns and cities will either be held harmless or gain more ECS funding.

Municipal Support and Mandate Relief

This budget provides predictable municipal aid so that towns and cities know what they can count on from the state. This plan does not ask towns and cities to pay for teacher retirement costs as the governor’s proposal does.  It also implements significant mandate relief for cities and towns to help municipalities achieve efficiencies and pass savings on to taxpayers.

Funds Core Social Services

This revised budget maintains Republican proposals to restore funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need. It fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reopens Care4Kids, protects funding for SAGA that supports disabled residents who are unable to work, funds school based health clinics and family resource centers, restores funding for mental health services among many other programs.

Prioritizes Transportation

The Republican budget recognizes the importance of a safe, modern transportation system to public safety and economic growth throughout our state. Therefore, this budget prioritizes the state’s transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls or new taxes. It implements the Republican “Prioritize Progress” transportation funding plan and stabilizes the state’s Special Transportation Plan by dedicating transportation-related revenues to fund transportation needs and protects monies in the state’s Special Transportation Fund from being diverted for other uses.

Supports Seniors

The Republican budget lowers taxes for retirees by immediately eliminating the tax on social security and phasing in an elimination of taxation of pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000. It also helps seniors age in place by restoring funding for core programs such as Meals on Wheels, the personal needs allowance, non ADA dial a ride, and the CT Home Care Program.

Employment and Day Opportunities for the Intellectually Disabled

Our budget fully funds employment and day opportunities for new high school graduates over the biennium, nor does the Republican Budget carry forward reductions imposed by Governor Malloy to employment and day opportunities services for the intellectually disabled.

Funds State Parks & Tourism

Acknowledging the multiplier effect that tourism has on our economy, the Republican budget proposes to transfer 1.5% of the current hotel occupancy tax to a new Marketing, Culture and Tourism account. This is not a new tax as Democrats have proposed. Rather, it dedicates a portion of the current tax for its intended purpose to boost tourism funding. This budget also implements the Passports to Parks program that has garnered bipartisan support in the legislature.

Reduces Size of Government

The Republican budget proposal includes overtime savings of 10 percent, a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions, and makes cuts to the legislature such as reducing the number of legislative committees. The budget also makes targeted spending cuts, 10 percent reductions to certain agency accounts, and rolls forward lapses made last year except for cuts to core services such as grants for mental health and substance abuse and youth service bureau funding.

Includes Structural Changes

In addition to balancing the budget over the next two years, this budget includes policy changes that roll out into future years to achieve significant savings. Changes include items such as a spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and other policy changes for long term savings. The budget also implements pension reform beginning after the SEBAC deal ends in 2027 that will result in some immediate savings as calculated in an actuarial analysis.