Sen. Somers Releases Statement Re: Passage of Bipartisan Budget

May 10, 2018

Resolves Budget Shortfalls, Restores Funding for Medicare Savings Program and Municipalities

HARTFORD, Conn. – Today State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) released the following statement regarding the passage of a bipartisan budget on the final day of the 2018 legislative session. This proposal contains no new tax increases, maintains new retiree tax breaks contained in last year’s bipartisan budget and fully funds the Special Transportation Fund without implementing tolls.

The plan eliminates the projected budget shortfall in fiscal year 2019, fully balances the state’s transportation fund to allow all transit projects to move forward, restores funding for the Medicare Savings Program and HUSKY A coverage for working poor parents, directs more funds toward the Retired Teachers’ Healthcare Fund, and protects both ECS and municipal aid. It includes recommendations made by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth.

“This budget benefits the hard-working families and businesses of Connecticut and specifically citizens of the 18th District,” said Sen. Somers. “It fully restores funding for the Medicare Savings Program, decreases the boat tax to make Connecticut more competitive, fully funds the Retired Teachers’ Healthcare Fund, protects funding for Care 4 Kids, preserves education funding and municipal aid, and provides for specific funding for needs within my district. Including funding for a special firetruck for the town of Voluntown, a much needed infrastructure improvement project in Pawcatuck and increases the subsidy for dairy farmers. I cast my vote in favor of this budget to ensure Connecticut will begin to find a path back to prosperity and stability.”

Budget Summary

Financial Polices and Taxes:

  • Contains no new tax increases.
  • Maintains new retiree tax breaks contained in last year’s bipartisan budget for pension & social security income.
  • Rejects governor’s proposal to eliminate $200 property tax credit which supports elderly and working families.
  • Restores $10 million to the Energy Efficiency Fund.
  • Maintains $7 million savings target for a hard hiring freeze.
  • Provides $16 million to the Retired Teachers’ Healthcare Fund to provide a full statutory contribution of 33%.

    Restores Funding for Core Services:

  • Restores funding for the Medicare Savings Program in full to all 169,450 seniors. Cost of $130 million.
  • Restores funding for HUSKY A coverage for 13,000 low income working parents who otherwise would lose coverage beginning August 1.
  • Provides a 1% private provider COLA to all non-profit providers effective July 1, 2018 and incorporates I/DD wage contract changes passed by the legislature earlier this month.
  • Increases funding for the Judicial Branch court support staff.
  • Increases Vocational Agriculture per pupil grants by $1,000 per slot.
  • Provides $5 million for Emergency Placements for those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
  • Restores $18.5 million to magnet schools.
  • Provides $1 million for Connecticut Valley Hospital and Whiting Forensic Institute.
  • Restores funding for Elderly Nutrition Program, providing $2 million and rejecting the governor’s proposed cut to this vital service. Also makes this a separate line item to better protect this funding in the future.
  • Preserves grants for substance abuse treatment and mental health care.
  • Funds the Connecticut Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) with $5 million needed in the fund.
  • Fully funds aid to disabled adding in $1.4 million.
  • Fully funds Old Age Assistance with an additional $1.8 million.
  • Protects funding for fire training schools and eliminates governor’s cut.
  • Restores funding for the Hispanic Programs in DSS providing funding to nonprofits.
  • Provides funding for Puerto Rico evacuees in housing and provides municipalities with a significant influx of evacuees with increased Education Cost Sharing Grants.
  • Continues tourism and cultural programs funding.
  • Does not implement any cuts to Care 4 Kids.
  • Continues enhanced reimbursement rate for primary care providers.
  • Provides needed funding for dairy farmers
  • Funds the Honor Guard
  • Provides $16.2 million to the Board of Regents for fringe benefit support.
  • Restores $2 million to fully staff the Connecticut state veterans hospital’s critical care unit.

Protects Municipal Aid:

  • Restores full funding for Municipal Aid. $28.4 million more than appropriated in FY 2019 as originally enacted. $70.5 million more in municipal aid than FY 2018.
  • Fully funds the FY 2019 enacted Education Cost Sharing grants.
  • Fully funds Renters Rebate program, protecting 48,000 people. No longer shifts the expense onto municipalities.

Funds Transportation:

  • Fully funds the Special Transportation Fund resulting in surpluses in the fund in each of the next 5 years (accelerates the diversion of sales tax from sale of automobiles at car dealerships into FY 2019 at 8%). This allows us to fully fund transportation infrastructure projects.
  • Fully funds rail and bus operations.
  • Enacts “Prioritize Progress” in part, a long-term plan to support infrastructure improvements without taxes or tolls.

Implements Recommendations from the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth as follows:

  • Study on pro-growth rebalancing of state taxes.
  • Study on revenue and expense optimization.
  • Study on reforming of the Teachers’ Retirement System.
  • Implements municipal relief by allowing schools to have volunteers perform work such as buildings and grounds maintenance.