Northwest Corner Lawmakers Call for Override of Governor’s Veto to Pass the State Budget

October 2, 2017

Remarks made in Torrington on Monday, October 2, 2017
By Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos, State Senator Craig Miner, State Representative Jay Case, State Representative Brian Ohler and State Representative Dave Wilson

Thank you all for joining us today.

We are here today to urge state lawmakers to come together and stand up to Governor Malloy’s veto of the state budget that passed the legislature with bipartisan support.

The governor vetoing this budget, and offering no alternative plan for our towns, cities and nonprofits but his executive order is a devastating event.

Under the governor’s executive order, Torrington would see a loss of $22.6 million in municipal aid this year.

Litchfield would see a loss of $1.7 million.

New Hartford would see a $3.2 million loss.

New Milford would see an $11 million loss.

Education aid would be zeroed out for Colebrook, Norfolk, Goshen, Barkhamsted, Canton, Harwinton, Cornwall, Kent, Sharon, Canaan, Warren and more.

Without a budget, these cuts become reality. This means teacher layoffs, reduction of services and property tax increases.

Our state needs a budget. And the truth is before us today we have a budget.

It is a budget that passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly.

It is a budget that not only avoids the governor’s draconian executive order that would hurt schools in most towns and cities, it is also a budget that creates stability for our towns and cities over the next two years, and for many years to come.

While Gov. Malloy vetoed it, he does not have the final word. That is up to the legislature. And we are urging action.
The budget that passed the legislature increases municipal aid and K-12 education funding, and for the first time in years distributes education funding to districts most in need by following a real education cost sharing formula.

Here in Torrington, the budget that passed the legislature would increase education funding by $7.3 million over two years.

In total municipal aid, Torrington would see an overall increase of $6.5 million over two years.

Meanwhile, under a budget proposal offered by Democrats, Torrington would see a reduction in municipal aid of $4 million.

The budget that passed the legislature restores retroactively funding that was cut to nonprofits in the governor’s executive order.

It also doesn’t have many harmful tax increases proposed in other budgets such as a cell phone tax, sales tax on nonprescription drugs, reduction of the property tax credit, or new real estate taxes.

This budget that passed the legislature does make difficult decisions to reduce state expenses and cut administrative costs throughout government. But at the same time it prioritizes the core functions of government.

It restores funding for vital social services. It’s a budget that protects services, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, that were cut in other budgets, such as: Care4Kids, Meals on Wheels, the CT Home Care Program, mental health and substance abuse treatment grants to combat the opioid crisis, as well as day and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The budget that Gov. Malloy vetoed also does not shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities and property taxpayers. This is an expense the state should be paying. Shifting it onto towns and cities means cuts to teachers, cuts schools and increased property taxes. And our towns have had enough.

The budget that passed the legislature also boosts transportation funding and implements a 30 year fully-funded transportation financing plan to spark economic growth in our state and ensure our transportation systems remain safe.

In addition to helping our schools, our cities, our towns and our core services, this budget also implements the structural changes our state desperately needs to start us on the long road to fiscal stability.

This includes a strong, enforceable spending cap and a robust bond cap to reduce the state’s ballooning debt.

By making long-term policy changes to reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order, this budget sets the state on a path towards stability, sustainability and opportunity for all people.

As mentioned before, this budget includes a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors such as enrollment, poverty and wealth. This results in an increase in ECS aid to poor towns with growing populations and needy child populations, and a decrease in funding to wealthier towns declining in enrollment over time.

However, we believed strongly in crafting this budget that towns and cities should be given a chance to prepare for these changes. So, no town will see a reduction in total municipal statutory grants over the next two years. And those towns that see an increase in funding under the formula will see a gradual increase beginning immediately.

To allow the governor’s executive order to go into effect while there is a balanced budget on the table that passed the legislature with bipartisan support is fiscal negligence.

To allow nonprofits to continue being cut, when we have a budget that restores funding is insanity.

To allow schools to be decimated by cuts, and teachers’ jobs to be threatened, when a solution is before us is reckless.

We believe it was wrong for the governor to veto this budget. And we hope that lawmakers can come together to override that veto. Lawmakers have to decide, if they are not going to override this veto, are they comfortable turning the keys over to Gov. Malloy to manage this state? Or do they want to set a new course for Connecticut? A new path is what this budget offers.