Dunsby and Hwang vote for compromise budget that restores education funding

State Rep. Adam Dunsby represents the 135th General Assembly district communities of Easton, Redding, and Weston.

State Rep. Adam Dunsby represents the 135th General Assembly district communities of Easton, Redding, and Weston.

State Rep. Adam Dunsby (R-135) voted to approve a bipartisan budget Oct. 26 as it passed the House of Representatives with a 126-23 veto-proof margin. Following the Senate’s passage of the budget bill, it now heads to the desk of Gov. Dannel Malloy for signature or potential veto.

The legislature’s budget was a compromise between House and Senate leadership from both parties in the midst of the governor’s executive order, which included dramatic funding reductions for town aid, education, and core social services — facts that had local leaders and residents worried about teacher layoffs and supplemental tax bills.

“The budget now passed caps state borrowing, does not transfer the cost of teachers’ pensions onto our towns, makes spending cuts, and implements the constitutionally mandated state spending cap,” said Dunsby. “All towns will now get Education Cost Sharing grants similar to last year’s, rather than most towns getting zero, as the governor’s executive order mandated.

“Taxes on Social Security and pensions will be phased out, and the threshold on the estate tax will rise to federal levels. The budget bill also contain important municipal mandate relief in the areas of binding arbitration, school minimum budget requirements, and ‘prevailing wage,’ which will help towns control their own costs. I do believe that this budget represents a small shift in thinking in Hartford, which if continued will return our state to prosperity.”

State Sen. Tony Hwang represents the 28th Senate district communities of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, and Westport.

State Sen. Tony Hwang represents the 28th Senate district communities of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, and Westport.

State Sen. Tony Hwang voted to approve the budget in the Senate on Oct. 25. He said, “I am relieved that we finally have a bipartisan budget for Connecticut. Legislators needed to step up to lead during the state’s fiscal crisis and make difficult but sound choices. We desperately needed to pass a budget to ensure the people of Easton, Weston and the communities of Connecticut do not suffer irreparable damage.

“Importantly, this plan does not transfer the state’s responsibility of teacher pension payments onto our local town budgets. It implements long overdue structural changes to how we govern into the future. Much more needs to be done, but I am excited to begin with this budget as a catalyst toward a better Connecticut.”

When the General Assembly approved the governor’s State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition union contract in July, it limited the ability of the state to close its $5 billion budget deficit by trimming its bureaucracy and controlling pension costs. However, the legislators pointed to several structural reforms within the compromise budget that were retained from a Republican budget bill that passed last month.

These include a bonding cap, a spending cap, a mandatory vote on all union contracts, and certain municipal mandate relief reforms. It also rejects several tax increases proposed by majority Democrats and the governor in previous budget proposals.

“As with any compromise, there are aspects not to like,” said Dunsby. “There should have been more spending cuts, and the increase in taxes on tobacco products is unfortunate. Nonetheless, we can celebrate some things that were kept out of this budget, such as a sales tax increase, a cell phone tax, and a state-levied property tax, all of which were presented in earlier budgets of the legislative Democrats. The compromise budget contains much that is good and is the best we are likely to get in present circumstances.”

The governor will make his decision on whether to veto the budget bill in the coming weeks, although the bill passed with enough support in both chambers that a veto could be overridden.

State Rep. Adam Dunsby represents the 135th General Assembly district communities of Easton, Redding, and Weston.

State Sen. Tony Hwang represents the 28th Senate district communities of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, and Westport.

The Connecticut State Capitol Building in Hartford.

The compromise budget awaits Gov. Dannel Malloy’s signature.

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