Have you seen this editorial?

October 30, 2017

 I made a pledge to you, the taxpayers.

I pledged that I would not vote to raise your taxes.

Last week, I kept my word.

I have attached for you an excellent editorial which was published in the Waterbury Republican-American this weekend.

Please read and share it, and send me your comments at [email protected].  Thank you!

Budget could have been better

Waterbury Republican-American Editorial

Connecticut’s budget impasse is nearing its end.

This week, the legislature overwhelmingly approved a $41.3 billion budget for the 2017-19 biennium, which began July 1. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has until Tuesday to sign, veto or allow the budget to become law without signing it.

Gov. Malloy has not said what he will do.

The budget was passed by veto-proof majorities.

The budget is a mixed bag.

A chance to make more substantive changes was lost this summer, thanks to Gov. Malloy and most legislative Democrats.

Some undeniably positive changes would be made to Connecticut government’s financial practices.

The legislature would be required to vote on all state-employee union contracts, a departure from an absurd practice that gave Big Public Labor the upper hand and absolved lawmakers from taking stands on contracts.

Teachers would increase their annual contributions toward their pensions, from 6 percent of their salaries to 7 percent.

“The teachers’ increased contributions to their pension fund (would) quickly translate into a savings in the General Fund. The state (would) use those increased payments, $18 million this fiscal year and $38 million in 2018-19, to reduce the state’s contribution to the pension fund by matching accounts,” the Connecticut Mirror reported Oct. 26.

Meanwhile, more stringent caps would be imposed on state spending and borrowing.

The way would be cleared for Connecticut residents to vote on fully implementing the spending cap approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1992.

Local governments would be afforded more options for managing their finances.

“(The state budget would) provide towns with more flexibility to reduce education budgets under the state’s minimum budget requirement, which prohibits towns from budgeting less for education than the previous year under almost all situations,” the Republican-American reported Oct. 27. The Mirror reported, “Towns would have more flexibility to launch more publicly financed capital projects without having to pay union-level construction wages. And arbiters (would) have more options when ruling on wage and other contract issues involving municipalities and their employees.”

These changes should have been made years ago.

Other aspects, however, are troubling.

Notably, $175 million would be swept from special funds, an exercise in gimmickry.

The budget would raise taxes and fees by $1.03 billion.

The cigarette tax, which we long have considered a tax on the poor, would increase by 45 cents per pack.

The tax on ridesharing services would increase by 25 cents, a strike against quality of life.

An increase in the hospital tax would burden the federal government, which has its own financial problems.

We can’t help but lament what could have been.

Legislative Republicans had offered proposals to make statutory changes to state government’s relationship with its employees.

The chance to implement them was lost in July when all but one of the legislature’s Democrats ratified Gov. Malloy’s burdensome “concessions” deal with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.

Whatever Gov. Malloy does, this budget likely will take effect.

While it would do some good, Connecticut voters should remember things could have been better.