From the Rep-Am: Legislators Give Snapshot of Upcoming Session

January 9, 2019

GOSHEN — Two of three state legislators representing Goshen gave the Board of Selectmen some insight Tuesday into how the legislative session that begins today may shake out.
State Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, and state Rep. Jay M. Case, R-Winsted, met with the board for a chat about some of the issues the legislature is likely to consider in a session that will extend into early June.
State Rep. Maria Horn, R-Salisbury, was unable to attend the meeting.
With new Gov. Ned Lamont and a Democrat-heavy legislature in place, proposals such as an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and paid family medical leave are sure to be debated by legislators, according to Miner and Case.
“(Democrats) clearly have the numbers to pass both,” Miner said of the two proposals that have drawn criticism from Republican legislators and the business community. “I could see a vote at the end of March.”
There is concern among Republicans that Lamont, as former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried to do last year, will attempt to foist on municipalities some of the cost of the state’s overburdened teacher pension fund, according to Miner.
Goshen, Miner added, should not take for granted that the annual state grant it receives for road maintenance won’t be reduced.
“I get your concerns,” Miner told First Selectman Robert P. Valentine and Selectmen Steven Romano Sr. and Dexter S. Kinsella after the board questioned potential reductions in state aid. “But we are in the early stages of a new administration and a new legislature, so we’ve got a long way to go before we know what might happen.”
Valentine worried about the effect a possible statewide auto tax would have on Goshen. Revenue from the auto tax in Goshen is $624,764 this year under a tax rate of 19.6 mills, but under a statewide tax rate of, for instance, 35 mills, revenue would be just over $1.1 million, according to Valentine. The difference of roughly $400,000 would go to the state.
“We run a very lean ship here and a statewide car tax would result in an increase in our (tax) rate,” Valentine said.
He added that the amount of Educational Cost Sharing funding the town receives has been whittled from $218,000 to $80,000 over the past few years. Selectmen obviously don’t want to see further erosion of aid.
“We want to make sure municipalities remain as whole as possible,” Case said of maintaining current levels of state aid. “There are a lot of common things Republicans are concerned about and we know it’s going to be a difficult year.”
Miner said he’s hopeful the legislature will work in bipartisan fashion to meet the needs of the state without forcing municipalities to increase property taxes.

Legislators give snapshot of upcoming session to Goshen selectmen