As the clock ticked out the final hours of the 2016 legislative session, State Representative Rob Sampson said the inability of the majority Democrats to pass a budget on time exposed their eleventh-hour agreement with Governor Dannel Malloy as containing no structural changes, while it ensures future deficits and slashes vital programs to the poor, mentally ill, and education funding.
The plan contains deep spending cuts to critical areas, like addiction services, in the midst of an opioid epidemic. It cuts $36 million in local school funding and special education, as well as $13 million for hospitals. “Cuts to municipalities are really nothing more than passing the buck and will force local leaders to raise property taxes,” said Sampson.
“The budget process has been a disaster this year,” said Rep. Sampson. “This state is facing enormous and perpetual deficits, while the governor and Democrats in the majority refuse to acknowledge what is causing revenues to fail to live up to their expectations. Their terrible economic policies have damaged our tax base, and that’s something very difficult to reverse. Yet these leaders do not seem to realize that the diminished returns on higher taxes and fees are the result of their punitive policies. Businesses are leaving, and they are taking their talent and money with them. Until they accept this reality and adopt the kinds of structural changes Republicans have been calling for, they are doomed to repeat it.”
Sampson stood with legislative Republicans last month as they put forth their own balanced budget that does not raise taxes, does not use the Rainy Day Fund and makes measured cuts that do not punish the most at risk, such as the poor and elderly. The plan also included a comprehensive five-year strategic plan that reduces spending, makes structural changes to how the state budgets and achieves savings that will result in actual surpluses.
Other aspects of the Democrats’ newest budget on the spending side feature:
- A $17 million cut from local PILOT programs that will force towns to raise property taxes.
- Earmarking of education cost sharing payments for towns represented by Democratic leaders totaling $1.1 million (Stonington, Hamden, Madison, New Britain and Farmington)
- $8.7 million in cuts from mental health and substance abuse programs.
- $2.2 million in cuts from assistance for the poor.
- Elimination of all state funding for school transportation which will force towns to raise property taxes.
- The budget includes $68.6 million in assumed mystery “savings’’ that if not achieved as in previous budgets, will lead directly to deficits.
- It moves general fund obligations of $3.3 million into the Insurance Fund account that is paid for by the state insurance industry. This will force them to increase insurance premiums yet again.
- There are still no provisions to force the legislature to approval union contracts.
- There are no still defined paths to create a workable spending cap or a reduced bonding cap.
- There remains no overtime accountability and no municipal mandate relief.