State reps oppose budget mitigation package

Trumbull legislators State Reps. David Rutigliano (R-123), Ben McGorty (R-122), and Laura Devlin (R-134) opposed a budget mitigation package to address the $350 million dollar deficit during a special session Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The budget is full of “gimmickry” with almost 40% of the plan coming as the result of diverting resources from specialized funds and various one-time revenue sources, including raiding the Special Transportation Fund to the tune of $35,200,000.

Republican lawmakers called on Governor Malloy and the majority party to scrap their failed state budget passed on June 3, which included the second highest tax increase in our state’s history after the state budget fell into deficit after two months.

Today, the legislature put forward a plan to cut projected deficits of $254 million in the current fiscal year and $552 million next year but does little to reassure Connecticut residents that the state will not be in deficit before the end of the fiscal year. While today’s proposal makes changes to many of the business tax increases we had been advocating for, including restoring some funding to hospitals, it also raided $35 million from the transportation fund and provided no acknowledgement of the structural changes needed to address the deficits we'll be facing next year ($358 million projected deficit for 2017) and a $3.6-billion projected deficit in 2018-19.

"This year’s budget was awful in June, and remains bad today,” said Rep. David Rutigliano. “Although there are certain positive short term business measures, the current band-aid approach fails to tackle some of the structural problems with the budgeting process.

“It’s time to stop moving from crisis to crisis and tackle some of the real problems,” he added. “Rest assured we will be back at the State Capitol in a short period of time to place yet another band-aid on yet another ‘unexpected’ deficit.”

Rep. Devlin agreed in her stance to oppose the piece-meal deficit plan.

“Regrettably, everything the Republicans said was going to happen with this awful budget forced on our state in June has happened — and that's not good news,” she said. “The budget that the Speaker of the House claimed as a ‘budget to celebrate’ in June, has been a disaster for our state.

“It's even worse than Republicans projected,” Rep. Devlin added. “In addition to the businesses that have threatened to leave as a result of the taxes imposed with the budget in June, on the heels of two historic tax increases, one of which was retroactive six months, the deficits warned about came faster than even we had anticipated. This is not good stewardship of our state; this is not good government.”

Rep. McGorty said that he had hoped lawmakers would be able to vote on a budget mitigation package that would make long-term structural adjustments to a system of budgeting that has “failed us time and time again."

"Massive and punishing tax increases have not righted our economic ship, and we have seen budget deficit after budget deficit,” he said. “What was acted on during this session simply kicks the can down the road, and sets the table for future deficits."

As GE explained to Republican lawmakers of the House and Senate, at their corporate headquarters this fall they are not looking for a "special deal." GE and other businesses and hospitals in our state, are looking for a solid, predictable business policy.

According to the legislators, each year, the state promises the business community or the taxpayer something, whether it is tax credits, hospital funding, or a transportation project, only to have the promise pulled the next year and funds siphoned to meet budget shortfalls.

Republicans in October put forward a serious budget proposal in an effort to close the current budget deficit that works to address the state’s long-term structural budgetary issues. Some of the key points (highlighted below) include lowering the state debt by limiting the amount Connecticut can borrow, identifying and addressing inefficiencies in state government, protecting transportation funding, better management of the state’s pension system, and modest labor modifications.

·         Mandatory approval of state labor contracts by both House and Senate. This will force lawmakers to be accountable. A contract has not been rejected since the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, voted one down in 1995.

·         Increase state employee pension contributions and health care beginning in 2022 when the current contract expires.

·         Implement definitions for a constitutional spending cap by March 1 in the next legislative session through a bipartisan commission. If no cap is in place no final action on any bills would be permitted.

·         Cap bonding allocations by the State Bond Commission at $1.8 billion annually.

·         Competitively bid the Corrections Department healthcare contract that costs the State of Connecticut $92 million last year.

The full Republican deficit mitigation proposal is available here.