A budget compromise or an abdication of responsibility?

To the Editor:

The latest State budget proposal is being touted as a compromise. The compromise is to transfer less of the State Pension costs to the Towns than originally proposed last spring.  This is not a compromise. This is an attempt to pass the cost of the State’s mismanagement of the Pension program on to the Towns.

Let’s review what has transpired:

  • The State promised all Connecticut teachers a pension.
  • The State promised the Towns that the State would fund the Pension program.
  • The State did not fund the Pension program as promised.
  • The State took money from the Towns’ residents. In Fairfield’s case, taxpayers pay $200 million a year in state income tax. This money was supposed to go to fund State expenses including the Pension program.
  • The State now does not want to manage their expenses better.
  • The State is now asking the Towns to pay even more to cover the State’s mismanagement.
  • Because of the State’s mismanagement, the annual cost of the Pension program is projected to increase 500% over the next 12 years.
  • The State is refusing to make any changes to the Pension program that it cannot afford.

Our town has managed our Pension costs well. We have lowered our long-term liabilities and have a 90% funded pension.  The State did not do the same.

Fairfield taxpayers already pay the State $200 million per year in income tax. $200 million a year adds up to $1 billion over the last five years. Now the State wants the Towns to pay for its mismanagement. The annual cost for this Pension will grow 500% in the next 12 years. This will be the fastest growing line item in every Town budget. It will force towns and cities to increase property taxes every year going forward.  Raising property taxes at the local level unfairly punishes low income property owners and seniors. It raises the cost of home ownership and may force people out of their homes. It raises taxes on people regardless of their ability to pay.

This proposed transfer of costs allows the State to avoid finding real solutions to its fiscal crisis.  It allows the State to avoid facing the difficulties of reining in expenses.  This is not a solution.  This is not a compromise.  This is an abdication of responsibility.

Click here for an article providing some more background.

We will continue to fight for Fairfield and keep our community informed on this matter which is so crucial to the future of Fairfield and our State.

Thank you.

First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Selectman Kevin Kiley

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