Hartford – Today, State Representatives John Frey (R-111) and Michael Ferguson (R-138) joined together with State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) to release a revised two-year state budget proposal with no new taxes that would put a stop to the governor’s executive order, restore funding for education and core social services, and provide stability for towns and cities.
The revised budget proposal offered by Senate and House Republicans includes no tax increases and rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities that would further burden municipalities and lead to increased property taxes. The Republican budget proposal combines elements of the Senate and House Republicans’ multiple prior budget proposals released earlier this year, feedback from Democrat lawmakers and the governor, and factors in the legislature’s passage of the state employee labor concessions deal that is now law.
“Let me make this perfectly clear – the legislature does not need to raise taxes in order to balance the budget and eliminate the deficit, and to say otherwise is completely disingenuous,” said Rep. Frey. “With this budget proposal, we have proven that it is still possible to craft a responsible, balanced budget without adding onto the tax burden faced by Connecticut families and businesses. It takes a creative approach to budgeting by looking at state government and finding ways to save money on departments, workforce, and programs. We were able to maintain current levels of municipal aid, avoid billing towns for the cost of teacher pensions, and continue funding core government services like Care4Kids and programs for people with IDD. Do not let the majority party tell you that raising taxes is the only option, because it is not.”
“I fully support the no-tax increase balanced budget put forward today by my House and Senate Republican colleagues. For the last two months, the lack of a state budget has created great uncertainty and much anxiety for school districts, local municipalities, area hospitals and our most vulnerable residents,” said Rep. Ferguson. “Leaving the state budget in the hands of the governor would prove disastrous for hundreds of towns across Connecticut. It’s time for the legislature to act and vote on a state budget plan, one that does NOT hurt the taxpayers of Connecticut.”
“Governor Malloy’s union concession deal left legislators with fewer opportunities to create a responsible, balanced, no-tax-increase state budget, but we were still able to draft a proposal that takes care of municipalities without forcing them to take on state debts. It also provides funding so that all of Connecticut’s children receive a good education and our neediest residents get the care and assistance they need,” said Sen. Boucher. “This is a lean budget, but it is a compassionate budget that does not raise taxes and makes changes to state government that are sorely needed. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this state budget.”
No New Taxes
The revised Republican budget contains no new taxes. It does not increase or expand the sales tax, hospital tax or income tax. It also rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities as such a policy change would likely result in property tax increases.
The Republican budget enacts two policies that will reduce taxes for retirees by phasing in a tax exemption for Social Security and pension income for middle income families. In addition, the Republican budget also restores the entire $200 property tax credit for all qualifying families and individuals. Under Governor Malloy’s tenure this tax credit has been reduced from $500 and we believe that property owners deserve a break on their taxes.
Increases Education Funding
The Republican budget rejects the governor’s devastating education cuts contained in his budget proposal and executive order entirely. It instead includes a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding recent court decisions, enrollment, poverty, wealth and number of English Language Learners, among other factors. This budget dedicates $33.6 million more to education in FY 2018 and $136.6 million more in FY 2019 and phases in a new formula over 10 years. It also establishes a council to analyze and make any necessary changes to the new formula within the next year if deemed necessary. In 2018 all towns and cities’ base ECS grant will either be held harmless or gain more funding.
Municipal Support and Mandate Relief
This budget provides predictable municipal aid so that towns and cities know what they can count on from the state. This plan does not ask towns and cities to pay for teacher retirement costs as the governor’s proposal does. It also implements significant mandate relief for cities and towns to help municipalities achieve efficiencies and pass savings on to taxpayers.
Funds Core Social Services
This revised budget maintains Republican proposals to restore funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need. It fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reopens Care4Kids, protects funding for SAGA that supports disabled residents who are unable to work, funds school based health clinics and family resource centers, restores funding for mental health services among many other programs.
The Republican budget recognizes the importance of a safe, modern transportation system to public safety and economic growth throughout our state. Therefore, this budget prioritizes the state’s transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls or new taxes. It implements the Republican “Prioritize Progress” transportation funding plan and stabilizes the state’s Special Transportation Plan by dedicating transportation-related revenues to fund transportation needs and protects monies in the state’s Special Transportation Fund from being diverted for other uses.
The Republican budget lowers taxes for retirees by immediately eliminating the tax on social security and phasing in an elimination of taxation of pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000. It also helps seniors age in place by restoring funding for core programs such as Meals on Wheels, the personal needs allowance, non ADA dial a ride, and the CT Home Care Program.
Employment and Day Opportunities for the Intellectually Disabled
The Republican budget fully funds employment and day opportunities for new high school graduates over the biennium, and it does not carry forward reductions imposed by Governor Malloy to employment and day opportunities services for the intellectually disabled.
Funds State Parks & Tourism
Acknowledging the multiplier effect that tourism has on our economy, the Republican budget proposes to transfer 1.5% of the currenthotel occupancy tax to a new Marketing, Culture and Tourism account. This is not a new tax as Democrats have proposed. Rather, it dedicates a portion of the current tax for its intended purpose to boost tourism funding. This budget also implements the Passports to Parks program that has garnered bipartisan support in the legislature.
Reduces Size of Government
The Republican budget proposal includes overtime savings of 10 percent, a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions, and makes cuts to the legislature such as reducing the number of legislative committees. The budget also makes targeted spending cuts, 10 percent reductions to certain agency accounts, and rolls forward lapses made last year except for cuts to core services such as grants for mental health and substance abuse and youth service bureau funding.
Includes Structural Changes
In addition to balancing the budget over the next two years, this budget includes policy changes that roll out into future years to achieve significant savings. Changes include items such as a spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and other policy changes for long term savings. The budget also implements pension reform beginning after the SEBAC deal ends in 2027 that will result in some immediate savings as calculated in an actuarial analysis.
State Representative John Frey represents the 111th district, which includes Ridgefield. He is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Bonding Subcommittee and a member of the Banks Committee and Committee on Legislative Management.
State Representative Michael Ferguson represents the 138th Assembly district communities of Danbury, New Fairfield, and Ridgefield. He is a member of the General Assembly’s Education, Transportation, and Internship committees.
State Senator Toni Boucher represents the 26th Senate district communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.1