Fairfield state lawmakers are applauding the governor’s Oct. 31 decision to sign the historic, bipartisan vote on a state budget to close a projected $3.5 billion deficit over the next two years.
The bipartisan budget eliminates the Governor’s executive order that deprived schools, communities, and nonprofit social service organizations of essential funding for 123 days.
“As I have previously stated, this budget begins the process of turning our state around and represents a new approach to budgeting that has not been seen in many years,” said Rep. Brenda Kupchick. “I am relieved that the governor has decided to act responsibly and not prolong the budget stalemate that has affected residents in Fairfield and across Connecticut. Although this budget contains serious shortcomings that we have to address as soon as possible, the final budget product could have been a lot worse than it was. I am proud of my colleagues for standing up to the governor and getting this passed into law.”
Rep. Laura Devlin said, “This budget represents a hard fought victory for the families and taxpayers of Fairfield. We were able to protect Fairfield’s municipal and educational state funding after multiple attempts to punish our community for having our fiscal house in order. I am also proud we were able to stop the governor’s ill-advised proposal to shift the teachers’ pension costs onto cities and towns which would have crippled Fairfield with an unexpected financial burden.”
Sen. Tony Hwang said, “We desperately needed to pass a budget to ensure the people of Fairfield and the communities of Connecticut did not suffer irreparable damage. I am relieved that we finally have a bipartisan budget for Connecticut. Legislators stepped up to lead during the state’s fiscal crisis and make difficult but sound choices. 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. We must keep working to pass budgetary policies which bring about predictability, stability and transparency in our state.”
The budget is the result of bipartisan negotiations and contains policies from both Democrats and Republicans, including:
- An enforceable spending cap
- A bonding cap of $1.9 billion
- No broad sales tax increases or income tax increases
- A new formula to ensure education aid is directed proportionally to towns based on need.
- Predictable municipal aid so that towns and cities know what they can count on from the state
- No shift of teacher pension costs onto towns and cities thereby saving towns, cities, schools and taxpayers from shouldering another financial burden
- Significant mandate relief to help municipalities achieve efficiencies, foster cooperation between school boards and local governments, and pass savings on to taxpayers
- Targeted spending cuts and reductions to state government agency accounts, excluding cuts to core services
- A hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions
- Manageable reductions to higher education institutions, while aid for scholarships for low- and middle-income students was preserved
- Protection of funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need
- Full funding for day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Protection of funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
- Protection of aging in place initiatives are protected by restoring funding for the CT Home Care Program and opening it to new participants
- Increasing funding for Seniors Meals and non ADA dial a ride, and preserving the personal needs allowance
- Lowers taxes for retirees by eliminating the tax on social security income
- Lowers taxes for retirees by eliminating the tax on pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000
- A plan to stabilize the Special Transportation Fund by dedicating transportation-related revenues to fund transportation needs. Without this change, the STF was projected to be insolvent by 2021, which would put all transportation projects in jeopardy.
Connecticut legislators on July 24th successfully overrode Governor Malloy’s veto of HB 6880, an affordable housing bill that had passed with large bipartisan support, led by Housing Committee chairs Senators Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) and Representative Larry Butler (D-Waterbury).
Veto overrides are rare as two-thirds of each chamber is required to re-pass the legislation over the Governor’s veto.
Since 1971, CT Governors have vetoed 615 bills, only 55 of which have been re-passed by the legislature. Governor Malloy has vetoed over 50 bills passed by Connecticut’s General Assembly during his term in office – only 3 have been overridden.
During the Senate’s veto session, Senator Hwang gave an impassioned speech pledging a commitment to increase affordable housing throughout every community in Connecticut. He also reminded those who feared the bill would weaken the affordable housing statute (8-30g) to the point of inefficacy, that this was the beginning of a longer project to fix a decades-old process that is already ineffective–responsible for only 5,000 of the 185,000 units deemed affordable in the state of Connecticut. Senator Hwang highlighted this failure, remarking that “30 years later, we are looking at the same statute that has remained static [without fulfilling] the ultimate mission,” and that “to continue doing the same thing, to apply a statute that has not kept up with the times [is] a disservice,” to the people of Connecticut.
Affordable housing is an issue important to so many Connecticut residents who have been unable to secure affordable and appropriate housing, and for our policemen and women, teachers, firefighters and others who can’t afford to live in the same communities they serve.
Hwang remarked that “as a co-chair [of the Housing Committee], there is nothing more important than to afford every individual in this state affordable and appropriate housing,” because “it is fundamental to what we espouse to be an integral part of pursuing the American Dream.”
Hwang implored his legislative colleagues to “consider the override as a step forward in a collaborative, bipartisan effort to solve a problem [that] is long overdue.”
He went on to praise the Governor for his work in the past in “eradicating the chronic homelessness of our veterans,” but reminded his fellow Senators that these efforts were successful “because we made innovative, collaborative, multi-party changes” to legislation that was previously ineffective. This is exactly what Senator Hwang and his partners were able to do with this bill.
This override was a major win for Connecticut residents in a time where bipartisanship, pragmatism and solution-based approaches to the problems we face are few and far between. Senator Hwang and his colleagues were able to come together and reach across the aisle to put people over politics. These are the political relationships that must remain strong if the state is to recover and thrive.
Moreover, this is a demonstration that with solutions-based leadership, these kinds of incremental changes can have a positive impact on the lives of all Connecticut residents and provide a foundation for future innovation, collaboration and significant progress for our state.
The Connecticut State Senate on Oct. 26 delivered a historic, bipartisan vote on a state budget to close a projected $3.5 billion deficit over the next two years.
Sen. Tony Hwang’s remarks on the State Senate floor during the state budget debate can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/cWCo82WyXDA
The budget is the result of bipartisan negotiations and includes policies from both Democrats and Republicans.
The bipartisan budget includes the following:
Restores Education Funding, Implements New Funding Formula
This budget includes a new Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding CCJEF and Meskill court decisions, enrollment, poverty, wealth and number of English Language Learners, among other factors. This budget averts the need for the devastating local education cuts contained in the governor’s executive order. It also creates a new formula to ensure education aid is directed proportionally to towns based on need. Wealthier towns with shrinking populations will see small decreases in aid and poorer towns with growing populations will see gradual increases in aid over time. For charter schools, per pupil grants are increased by $250 and funding is provided to allow for grade growth.
Provides Municipal Support and Mandate Relief
This budget provides predictable municipal aid so that towns and cities know what they can count on from the state. This plan averts the deep municipal cuts contained in the governor’s executive order, minimizes reductions in aid, and also does not shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities thereby saving towns, cities, schools and taxpayers from shouldering another financial burden.
The budget also implements significant mandate relief for cities and towns to help municipalities achieve efficiencies, foster cooperation between school boards and local governments, and pass savings on to taxpayers.
The car tax cap is maintained but capped at 39 mills in year one and 45 mills in year two with the state reimbursing the difference for those towns will mill rates exceeding the caps.
Makes Targeted Spending Cuts
This budget makes targeted spending cuts, reductions to agency accounts, and rolls forward lapses made last year excluding cuts to core services. It also implements overtime savings of 10 percent and a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions. Manageable reductions were made to higher education institutions including a $134 million reduction to UConn and UConn health, while aid for scholarships for low- and middle-income students was preserved.
Protects Core Social Services
The bipartisan budget protects funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need. It fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It also protects funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
Supports Seniors & Cuts Taxes on Retirees
Aging in place initiatives are protected by restoring funding for the CT Home Care Program and opening it to new participants, increasing funding for Seniors Meals and non ADA dial a ride, and preserving the personal needs allowance. The budget also lowers taxes for retirees by eliminating the tax on social security income and pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000.
Stabilizes the State’s Transportation Fund
Connecticut needs a safe, modern transportation system to support public safety and economic growth throughout our state. Therefore, this budget implements a plan to stabilize the Special Transportation Fund by dedicating transportation-related revenues to fund transportation needs. Without this change, the STF is projected to be insolvent by 2021, which would put all transportation projects in jeopardy. This is a needed reform to ensure the STF remains solvent.
Includes Structural Changes
In addition to balancing the budget over the next two years, this budget includes policy changes that will shape the state’s future and put CT on healthier financial footing. These changes include an enforceable spending cap, bonding cap of $1.9 billion, municipal mandate relief, and additional policy changes for long term savings.
This budget includes a cigarette tax increase, a fee of $0.25 on ride sharing services, and the scaling back of tax credits. It also includes hospital changes as agreed to by Connecticut hospitals to leverage more federal funding. The budget does not impose broad sales tax increases or income tax increases. It also provides tax relief by phasing out the tax on social security income and pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000.
Supports our Capital City
This budget seeks to provide needed support to Hartford to prevent the city from declaring bankruptcy. It will implement new oversight of Hartford, offering $20 million in state aid through a new Municipal Accountability Review Board and $20 million in debt payments to support the city. Along with this funding will come increased oversight and requirements to reduce city expenses.
This budget provides critical aid to help homeowners impacted by crumbling foundations in eastern Connecticut. It establishes a special public benefit captive insurance not-for-profit company to manage funding and a transparent and open process to distribute this funding to assist homeowners.
Funds State Parks & Tourism
The budget implements the bipartisan “Passport to Parks” program dedicating a $10 biennial fee to fund parks and in exchange would allow free entrance to all state parks with a Connecticut license plate. This budget also acknowledges the multiplier effect that tourism has on our economy, and therefore creates a new Marketing, Culture and Tourism account beginning in FY 2019 funded with 1.5% of the current hotel occupancy tax, dedicating this portion of the current tax to stabilize tourism funding.
Please watch and share the attached video of my remarks on the State Senate floor during the state budget debate.
Send me your comments at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov – thank you!
I have joined with Democrats and Republicans at the State Capitol to step up and lead Connecticut out of our fiscal crisis.
The bipartisan budget includes:
- A cap on state spending
- A cap on state bonding to reduce debt
- A hiring freeze
- Phases out the tax on social security income and pension income
- Restores millions of dollars in local education funding and municipal aid
- Municipal mandate relief to help towns and cities reduce costs and benefit local property taxpayers
- Does not shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities
- No increase to the sales tax or income tax
- No cell phone tax
- No second home tax
- Protects funding for day services and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities
- Protects funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment to fight the opioid epidemic
- Protects funding for child care for low income families
- Protects services for seniors including the CT Home Care Program, Meals on Wheels and non ADA dial a ride
Please watch and share my update:
State Senator Tony Hwang and State Representatives Brenda Kupchick and Laura Devlin were encouraged and relieved upon the release of the bipartisan state budget bill which will restore the draconian funding cuts to Fairfield that were made in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Executive Order.
The bill can be viewed here: www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/s/2017SB-01502-R00-SB.htm
The budget bill will not redistribute the state’s teacher’s pension obligation to local governments. It also implements key structural limits on how state taxpayer money is spent.
Under the bipartisan proposed budget, Fairfield’s municipal aid grant will now be $4,722,182 in Fiscal Year 2018 and $4,493,273 in Fiscal Year 2019, which includes newly allocated educational funding of $1,032,807 in Fiscal Year 2018 and $1,091,575 in Fiscal Year 2019 instead of the zero ($0) proposed by Gov. Malloy’s Executive Order. (Town aid chart attached)
“Thank goodness, Fairfield will be held relatively harmless,” Sen. Hwang said. “This bipartisan compromise protects municipal and education aid to Fairfield, and that’s very good news for property taxpayers, students, and educators. This budget will not place the state’s teacher pension obligation burdens onto towns and local taxpayers.”
“While I’m not in favor of every piece of the compromise budget, I am grateful we were able to protect most of Fairfield’s funding and avert the shift of teacher pension costs to Fairfield,” said Rep. Kupchick. “It is also encouraging to see that a true spending cap and bonding cap are included along with mandatory votes by the legislature on all union contracts. I look forward to the debate in the House on Thursday.”
“This has been a difficult process and it’s unfortunate that the bipartisan budget passed last month was vetoed by the governor. This new budget is a bipartisan compromise that does protect the Fairfield community from the governor’s drastic cuts and puts in place long-needed structural reforms,” said Rep. Devlin. “Our government is better when both parties work together for the good of the state. This budget, while no means perfect, gives hope to Connecticut residents that ‘business as usual’ in Hartford is no longer an acceptable practice. We must continue to strive for a more effective and responsible state government.”
The bill is expected to pass by wide margins in the state legislature this week. If the governor vetoes the bill, the lawmakers said they would attempt an override of the veto.