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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

“Band-Aid” CT Budget Fixes Are Unacceptable

State Senator Tony Hwang


Yesterday at the State Capitol, Republicans and I put forth a proposal to bring about tax relief for Connecticut businesses and families.
Senator Hwang
Our amendment proposals:
  • Capped the impact of the state unitary tax, the burdensome levy that companies like General Electric have pointed to as creating a toxic business environment in Connecticut.
  • Eliminated the unfair tax on propane that impact our residents energy use costs
  • Provided more tax incentives for research and development businesses to grow in Connecticut.
Our amendment proposals failed along party line voting, but the proposed tax relief provisions were included and did pass in the overall state budget deficit mitigation bill.
Unfortunately, the bill was also weighed down with Band-Aid fixes and gimmicks and lacked long-term structural solutions. This budget simply kicked the can down the road, delaying and avoiding critical decisions.
I voted “No” on the proposed state budget deficit mitigation bill because we are in a fiscal crisis which requires bold, courageous leadership.
As I told WICC-AM 600’s Mike Bellamy today, we can do better, and we need to do better.
Here is why I voted “No”:
1) The bill does not include any fundamental, structural reforms that would stop the constant flow of red budget ink and what Gov. Malloy’s budget director has called Connecticut’s “permanent fiscal crisis”.
2) The bill achieves no long-term savings that will help address the $3.6 billion out-year budget deficit. That’s $3.6 “billion” with a “B”.
3) 40 % of the budget deficit plan diverts your taxpayer dollars from specialized funds and one-time sources. That’s a budget gimmick. Raiding designated funds are a Band-Aid approach to budgeting your tax dollars.
4) Transportation upgrades are supposed to be funded by the state’s Special Transportation Fund, yet this budget bill raids that fund by $35 million to balance the books this year.
5) The bill only restores 39 % of the governor’s budget cuts to hospitals, so critical patient healthcare will still be adversely affected.
6) The bill diverts $22.1 million from reserve accounts from our public colleges and universities in order to balance the budget. Those diversions will likely result in tuition hikes.
7) $2 million from a state Biomedical Research Fund gets sweep/raided to balance the budget.
8) $2 million from a state program to fit school buses with seat belts gets sweep/raided to balance the budget.
These are Band-Aids, not long-term structural solutions.
In addition, the absence of the following provisions led to my “No” vote on the bill:
1) No changes were made to the process for approving state employee contracts. It should be mandatory for the legislature to approve these contracts. Yes, current labor contracts are approved without legislative votes.
2) No reforms were made to our toothless, meaningless Constitutional State Spending Cap. We need a clearly defined, enforceable spending cap in order to rein in government spending.
3) No bond/borrowing cap was established on the amount of money our state borrows. The state credit card gets maxed out every year. Our debt burden will only continue to grow without this cap.
4) No reforms to state employee overtime abuse were made.
Although I voted “No”, I was encouraged that Republicans, who have long been shut out of budget discussions, were invited into the negotiation room to share our ideas and solutions.
That bipartisan collaboration must continue into 2016 if we are to put Connecticut back on a sustainable path.
  • It is time to get honest about our state’s fiscal woes.
  • It is time to stop blaming Connecticut’s fiscal woes on the recession and the stock market.
  • It is time we throw out the Band-Aids altogether, put an end to the “permanent fiscal crisis” and do what you, the taxpayers, elected us to do.
That’s our opportunity in 2016.
I believe in Connecticut.
I want to make our state more appealing and more stable in order to grow jobs and help future generations.
I will work tirelessly with Democrats and Republicans – and you – to make these difficult and necessary reforms.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we get to work putting Connecticut back on track.
Visit me at www.SenatorHwang.com or email me at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov.

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