KUPCHICK: State Budget Turmoil

Since the gavel was struck at midnight on June 3 adjourning the session I’ve received an overwhelming amount of emails, phone calls from constituents outraged with a budget; that passed in the waning hours of session by a slim margin of three votes. The legislative session began in January, and here we are in June without a working budget and many important pieces of legislation that didn’t get called for a vote.

The Fairfield delegation held a town hall meeting last week on the current state budget situation and it was standing room only. The people of Fairfield are rightly upset.

The budget is hurtful to Connecticut’s middle class families and should be redrafted altogether. While the Governor has recently made public comments that he is open to adjustments to the budget, there hasn’t been any similar comments from the Speaker or the Democrat Legislative Leaders except to criticize corporations like GE that provide over 5,000 good paying jobs and is Fairfield’s largest taxpayer. GE also spends over 14 billion in goods and services with other Connecticut companies that provide jobs to our residents, that allow them to pay for homes, food, cars, local and state taxes that contribute to our community.

The governor and legislative leaders are pitting businesses against those served by the social safety net. However, what they both are leaving out of the equation is the state’s pension obligations and they’re simply are refusing to discuss any changes to the state employee contracts. They wouldn’t consider even a small change of moving new hires to 401K plans or higher contributions for a platinum health care plan; or at the very least, consider ending longevity bonus payments.

Could we lay off some state workers? One position that comes to mind is the long vacant non essential position in the state treasurer’s office recently filled by a unsuccessful democrat candidate for a salary of 87,000 plus benefits.

The state is in serious crisis. Every reputable economic report shows Connecticut’s economy is anemic with a unemployment rate higher than the national average and completely stalled. Nearly every other state has recovered from the recession, but Connecticut.

While I respect my Democratic colleagues in Hartford and work cooperatively with them on many issues important to our community, I strongly disagree with their vote to pass the 2nd largest tax increase in the history of Connecticut. The budget includes $1.5 billion in new taxes and will increase state spending by 7.5%, by redefining the state spending cap by removing the states pensions liabilities. Now I don’t know about most of you, but my families spending will not be increasing by 7.5% or will my income. Could you remove your monthly mortgage payment from your budget?

The property tax credit on the state income tax dropped forcing CT families to pay an additional $200 million in income taxes. Implementing a unitary tax on corporations has prompted GE, Travelers and Aetna to look at other states with less oppressive taxes taking with them thousands of jobs.

The budget also taxes ambulatory surgical centers at six percent which will result in higher costs for patients and includes more than $400 million added to the hospital provider tax. Hartford Hospital just announced in response to the budget and reductions in state and federal reimbursements for Medicaid they’re eliminating 335 positions which means 418 people will lose their jobs.

Recently, Sikorsky announced they are eliminating jobs, the question is who’s next? Some want to vilify businesses and corporations, but the fact is they provide jobs, pay local property taxes where they’re located and fuel other companies and small business owners. Businesses make long range plans as part of the business model and with the Whack a Mole style governing that’s coming from our legislature and Governor, current companies simply can’t plan or feel comfortable expanding and certainly, new companies wouldn’t be attracted to Connecticut in this environment. This isn’t republican rhetoric, it’s simple math.

Average everyday citizens are sick and tired of the partisan fighting and one sided government, frankly I’m sick of it too. Maybe if enough people stand up and say they’ve had enough, the Governor and legislative leaders will reach across the aisle to take the best parts of this budget and the republican budget and craft a budget that’s takes care of the state’s most vulnerable, that keeps job creating businesses here, funds transportation responsibly and paves a path to an economically stable Connecticut for all.

The legislature is reconvening on June 29th and 30th. Please call or email the Speaker or the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives at 800. 842.1902, [email protected], [email protected] and Governor Malloy’s Office at (800) 406-1527, www.governor.ct.gov, and respectfully ask them to work with both sides of aisle to rework this budget to protect the social safety net with no tax increases.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick

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