Hwang, Kupchick & Devlin oppose “Band-Aid” budget bill

Fairfield legislators State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28), and Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) & Laura Devlin (R-134) voted against a budget mitigation package to address the $350 million dollar deficit during a special session on Dec. 8.

On Dec. 8, the legislature put forward a plan to cut projected deficits of $254 million in the current fiscal year and $552 million next year. The plan does little to reassure Connecticut residents that the state will not be in deficit before the end of the fiscal year.

While the proposal makes changes to many of the business tax increases we had been advocating for, including restoring some funding to hospitals, it also raids $35 million from the transportation fund and provides no acknowledgement of the structural changes needed to address the deficits Connecticut faces next year ($358 million in July) and in 2018-19 ($3.5 billion).

Sen. Hwang said, “I was encouraged by the bipartisan process in which Republicans, who have long been shut out of budget discussions, were invited into the negotiation room to share our ideas and solutions. As a result, this bill contained many positive changes on corporate and personal tax relief. However, the bill was ultimately weighed down with Band-Aid fixes and budget gimmicks. This bill lacked long-term structural solutions to our budget problems. It simply kicks the can down the road, delaying and avoiding critical decisions. Connecticut is in a fiscal crisis, and that demands bold, courageous leadership. We can do better, and we need to do better.”

“Raiding the Special Transportation Fund to make favorable tax changes to state businesses will not calm the business community and their desire for a stable and reliable tax structure they can count on,” said Rep. Kupchick. “Sadly, this plan is another band aid on a severe wound. The state is facing a very serious budget crisis that short term gimmicks won’t fix. We need to do the hard work of making the changes that will address the projected deficits for the future, sadly, this mitigation plan doesn’t do it”

Devlin said, “Regrettably, everything the Republicans said was going to happen with this awful budget forced on our state in June has happened – and that’s not good news. The budget that the Speaker of the House claimed as a “budget to celebrate” in June, has been a disaster for our state. It’s even worse than Republicans projected. In addition to the businesses that have threatened to leave as a result of the taxes imposed with the budget in June, on the heels of two historic tax increases, one of which was retroactive six months, the deficits warned about came faster than even we had anticipated. This is not good stewardship of our state; this is not good government.”

As GE explained to Reps. Devlin, Kupchick, Sen. Hwang and the Republican leadership of the House and Senate at their corporate headquarters this fall, the company is not looking for a “special deal.” GE, and other businesses and hospitals in our state, are looking for a solid, predictable business policy.

According to the legislators, each year, the state promises the business community or the taxpayer something, whether it is tax credits, hospital funding, or a transportation project, only to have the promise pulled the next year and funds siphoned to meet budget shortfalls.

Republicans in October put forward a serious budget proposal in an effort to close the current budget deficit that works to address the state’s long-term structural budgetary issues. Some of the key points (highlighted below) include lowering the state debt by limiting the amount Connecticut can borrow, identifying and addressing inefficiencies in state government, protecting transportation funding, better management of the state’s pension system, and modest labor modifications.

·  Mandatory approval of state labor contracts by both House and Senate. This will force lawmakers to be accountable. A contract has not been rejected since the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, voted one down in 1995.

·  Implement definitions for a constitutional spending cap by March 1 in the next legislative session through a bipartisan commission. If no cap is in place, no final action on any bills would be permitted.

·  Cap bonding allocations by the State Bond Commission at $1.8 billion annually.

·  Competitively bid the Corrections Department healthcare contract that costs the State of Connecticut $92 million last year.

The full Republican deficit mitigation proposal is available here.

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

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