State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) released the following statement in response to Governor Ned Lamont’s presentation to the General Assembly concerning his budget priorities and the first draft of the Connecticut State Budget.
“I have been optimistic about Governor Lamont’s approach since he won election in November. He has consistently been open to all good ideas and sensible viewpoints, seems steadfast in his commitment to collaboration and inclusivity. I hope the Governor continues to display these qualities as we press on into the legislative session, because many of the proposals outlined here clearly need some work,” said Senator Hwang.
Governor Lamont’s first biennial state budget proposal offered his blueprint of choices for addressing Connecticut’s fiscal challenges and closing a nearly $4 billion deficit in the $40 billion 2-year budget while meeting the critical roles and responsibilities of state government.
“The most disappointing aspect of the Governor’s proposal, as we learned earlier this week, is certainly the breaking of his campaign promise that he would only seek to charge tolls on tractor trailers using our major interstates and instead offering options to toll/tax all types of vehicles. Although I did not agree with that proposal, I was glad that in his presentation, he seemed to offer an understanding that working Connecticut residents could not afford the added financial burden of tolls.”
“I have fought hard over the last several years to ensure that our municipalities receive the education funding they are promised by the Education Cost Sharing formula, and that they are not put on the hook to pay for the teacher pension liabilities that were promised by state government. I am extremely disappointed that Governor Lamont has decided to propose that municipalities cover 25% of teacher’s pension obligations.
Furthermore, we should not be picking winners and losers based on the fiscal health and efficiency of a municipality. We have a fair and equitable Education Cost Sharing Formula and we are constitutionally obligated to pay for the public education of all children, regardless of where they are from. I penned a letter to my town leaders last month to warn them this might happen, and also wrote a letter to the Governor with the support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle asking that he respect the ECS formula and our obligation to all Connecticut students. I hope we are more persuasive as the legislative session continues and the budget becomes more concrete.”
“While I am glad that the Governor has proposed much needed structural changes to the way we operate pensions for our state workers, and to administer public-private partnerships where it is sensible and feasible, I am opposed to the many proposed tax increases mentioned. Liquor bottle deposits and sugar taxes could hurt smaller merchants that operate on already slim margins and disproportionately affect low income families. I agree that we should be raising the age to purchase cigarettes and vaporizers, but increasing the tax on those items is just a revenue grab. Instead of taxing plastic bags, why not ban them? We shouldn’t be allowing people to pollute the environment for pocket change, we should be preventing them from doing so at all.”
“To give credit where it is due, I want to acknowledge Gov. Lamont’s request to the state employees to come back to the negotiating table for more substantive shared sacrifice, his earnest effort to collaborate on public/private partnerships for delivery of social services, and renewed commitment to greater government efficiency.”
“I appreciate Governor Lamont’s genuine and thoughtful approach and I eagerly look forward to being a part of the bipartisan solution that is urgently needed to move our state forward.”
State Senator Tony Hwang represents the Legislature’s 28th Senate district, including the towns of Fairfield, Westport, Weston, Easton, Newtown and Sandy Hook.