Sen. Hwang Applauds Legislature for
Overturning Governor’s Veto of Affordable Housing (8-30g) Bill
Thanks stakeholders in Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, Westport
State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) applauded the state legislature’s successful July 24 vote to override Governor Malloy’s veto of the bipartisan 8-30g Affordable Housing compromise bill, HB-6880.
Sen. Hwang said the bill, which now becomes law, marks the culmination of a great deal of cooperative work from stakeholders to provide modest affordable housing reform and offer towns an attainable goal of developing and reaching a moratorium.
Co-Chair of the General Assembly Housing Committee, Sen. Hwang said the reform fight represented “the way the system should work: with transparency, with a sharing of ideas and common goals, and with the will to create positive and lasting change for Connecticut.”
“We were disappointed by the governor’s veto, but we were not deterred,” Sen. Hwang said. “The support for these reforms from Democrats and Republicans was overwhelming, and we kept fighting. We kept fighting because our goal is a worthy one: We want to increase housing opportunities for everyone in Connecticut and encourage a diverse and dynamic residential community that will foster economic, educational, and cultural growth. We want to allow more local zoning and planning input in developing affordable and workforce housing projects that are compatible with community character. With this veto override vote, the legislature is taking a step in that direction.
“We felt that clearly, the nearly 30-year-old 8-30g language needed updating. We felt that the law should address the need for affordable housing in our state while providing more fairness to local communities that are often at the mercy of developers whose projects conflict with the wishes of the town zoning bodies and neighborhoods.
“Today, we stood strong as Democrats and Republicans. These reforms aim to motivate our state and municipalities toward greater access and inventory of workforce and affordable housing for Connecticut residents.
“I thank all the stakeholders in Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, Westport and throughout the state for speaking out on behalf of this bipartisan plan and for not giving up on it.”
This week, state union employees ratified a concessions package negotiated by Governor Malloy’s administration.
The legislature now has a responsibility to approve or reject two major items:
- The pension and benefits deal that applies to all state union employees
- Over 30 individual contracts we only just received on July 20
In an effort to be as transparent as possible, I want to make sure the public is fully aware of what’s in all these contracts.
I’ve made them all available online.
You can find all the contracts at the following link:
Please review, share, and let me know what you think about these contracts and benefit changes.
- Are they enough?
- Do they move our state in a new direction?
- What do you think?
Send me your thoughts at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov.
FAIRFIELD- State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Laura Devlin (R-134) along with State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) expressed extreme disappointment with announcement that Governor Malloy has vetoed the bi-partisan 8-30g Affordable Housing compromise bill, HB-6880.
The bill was a modest step towards affordable housing reform which hoped to offer towns an attainable goal of developing and reaching a moratorium.
Co-Chair of the General Assembly Housing Committee, Sen. Hwang said the reform fight will continue.
“While the governor’s action is disappointing, we are not deterred,” Sen. Hwang said. “The support for these reforms from Democrats and Republicans was overwhelming, and we will keep fighting. Our goal continues to be a worthy one: We want to increase housing opportunities for everyone in Connecticut and encourage a diverse and dynamic residential community that will foster economic, educational, and cultural growth. We want to allow more local zoning and planning input in developing affordable and workforce housing projects that are compatible with community character. The nearly 30-year-old 8-30g language needs updating. It should address the need for affordable housing in our state while providing more fairness to local communities that are often at the mercy of developers whose projects conflict with the wishes of the town zoning bodies and neighborhoods. These reforms aimed to motivate our state and municipalities toward greater access and inventory of workforce and affordable housing for Connecticut residents. I want to express my gratitude to all stakeholders for their passion and participation in getting this bipartisan plan to the governor’s desk.”
Rep. Kupchick said, “We worked hard to draft and pass a bi-partisan compromise that received 116 votes (77%) in the House of Representatives and 30 votes (83%) in the State Senate. I call on the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto so the voices of Fairfield citizens and state residents are heard.”
Rep. Devlin said, “For the life of me I do not understand how the Governor could veto this common sense bill which tried to provide some fairness and contemporary changes and update the 8-30g statute without undermining the Affordable Housing Act.”
Under the current 8-30g statue, towns like Fairfield had very little chance of ever achieving the high bar for a moratorium that allowed predatory developers to sidestep local zoning laws. It’s clearly been a difficult and complicated issue to work on with the majority in the legislature not in favor of any changes.
Each year the legislature has a veto session to meets to consider whether to override vetoes by the Governor. An override requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber (House & Senate) which would mean the House of Representatives would need 101 votes and the Senate would need 24 votes.
As Connecticut’s 2016-17 fiscal year closed with lawmakers failing to agree on a state budget, and following strong statements issued by their fellow Newtown delegation members, Representative J.P. Sredzinski (R-112) and Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) both reached out to The Newtown Bee with statements about the debacle that has dragged on at the state capital for weeks, and is now prompting a special budget session.
“This, in my view, is a dereliction of duty. This is failure,” stated Sen Hwang. “We’re ready to vote on a budget. We’re here at the State Capitol on behalf of state taxpayers. We’re here to work.”
With time running out on the legislature’s regular session and the end of the fiscal year looming, Rep Sredzinski said he stood with colleagues in the House Republican caucus in calling for an up-or-down vote on a GOP proposed balanced, no-tax increase state budget.
“I can’t stress enough how unprecedented this is — it’s the first time in recent history there will not be a state budget because the legislature failed to pass one,” Rep Sredzinski said. “Democratic leadership failed to even produce one out of committee and refused to call the budget proposed by House Republicans for a vote. It has to be a priority for all legislators to convene immediately to debate and pass a budget. Connecticut’s families, businesses, and our towns and cities deserve and expect us to at least vote on one.”
According to a release issued by the Monroe lawmaker, whose district also overlays several neighborhoods in southern Newtown, Legislative Republicans proposed a complete balanced budget this spring and then revised that proposal to account for a dramatic drop in revenue receipts. He said even though majority Democratic leaders did not produce a plan before or since the legislative committees reached their deadlines during the regular session, they will not agree to call the Republican budget for a vote.
Since no budget was passed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the governor is running the state by executive order. Rep Sredzinski warned that a prolonged budget struggle will cause substantial problems for towns and cities that count on state revenue to help run local government.
Residents most at risk and in need of social services will also be significantly affected, he said.
The Connecticut Mirror reported that Governor Dannel Malloy met with reporters in his Capitol office on June 30, and echoed the warning that social services, aid to towns, and most other programs would suffer significantly without a new budget.
“This is a regrettable path and one that I worked very hard to avoid,” Gov Malloy said, referring to the three-month provisional budget he asked legislators to adopt. But at the same time, the governor urged all legislators to focus on getting him an approved spending plan.
“I do not doubt that we can and will get through this,” the governor said. “Connecticut’s elected leaders will come together, and we will adopt a full, biennial budget. My administration will continue working every day towards that end — towards a budget that makes the necessary structural changes to achieve balance, now and into the future.”
Massive Deficit Forecast
The Connecticut Mirror reports that House Democratic leaders have said they are calling rank-and-file members back to the Capitol on July 18, possibly to vote on a two-year budget — if one has been negotiated — or on a provisional one. But legislators have been gridlocked for months over how to close huge projected deficits.
State finances, unless adjusted, are projected to run $2.3 billion in deficit in 2017-18, a shortfall of 12 percent. The potential gap rises to $2.8 billion or 14 percent in 2018-19. Lawmakers have said they hope to avoid major tax hikes after ordering them in 2011 and 2015, but taxes remain a point of contention, as do proposed cuts to social services and municipal aid, as well as a tentative concessions deal between the governor and state employee union leaders.
The process appears to be most vexing for Sen Hwang.
“Connecticut Senate Republicans have produced a detailed, line-by-line, thoughtful budget that has been thoroughly vetted by nonpartisan analysts,” he said.
The Senate Republican plan, which can be read at ctsenaterepublicans.com:
*Restores cuts to town aid
*Restores cuts to local education funding
*Restores cuts to hospitals
*Does not harm nonprofit organizations
*Reduces the size of government
*Makes necessary changes to state employee benefits
*Protects core services for seniors, the disabled, children, and our most at-risk residents
“Unfortunately, the Senate Republican plan never received a vote prior to the end of the fiscal year,” Sen Hwang said. “The Democrat Speaker of the House, who controls the House legislative agenda, refused to allow votes on any budget proposals.”
What happens now?
“The governor has unveiled an executive order which will ‘impose drastic spending cuts to local funding, hospitals and social services.’ Vulnerable people will be hurt. Pain will be inflicted. This didn’t have to happen,” Sen Hwang said. “[Newtown] taxpayers sent me to Hartford to work on your behalf and to be your advocate. On June 29, I showed up at the State Capitol to do exactly that. We were blocked from doing so, and that’s truly a shame.”
Sen Hwang and Rep Sredzinski both urge taxpayers to call state legislators, tell them how you feel, and tell them to do their job.
“The risk posed to town aid, education funding, hospitals, and other core services, as well as the people who rely on them, really cannot be overstated should no budget be adopted and the governor be allowed to run the state by executive order,” Rep Sredzinski said. “We have been warned, yet Democratic leadership is choosing not to act. I am disgusted that Democrats view this as acceptable for Connecticut.”
Rep Sredzinski also noted that House Republicans stepped up to the plate and developed a complete budget package that was updated twice to reflect declining revenue.
“If the Democrats don’t want to lead, the people in Connecticut need to know that Republicans are,” he added. “Passing our budget is the best possible option…and I urge my friends on the other side of the aisle to consider this proposal for the good of the people of this state.”
When the new fiscal year began Saturday, Connecticut was figuratively holding payment due notices for hundreds of millions of dollars more for things like payments on bonded debt; contributions to pensions and retiree heath care programs; Medicaid services bound by federal entitlement rules; and court-ordered child welfare services.
None of these extra costs goes down by one penny just because there is no new budget, The Connecticut Mirror reports. Further compounding matters, eroding income tax receipts and other General Fund revenues are expected to drop $400 million in the new fiscal year compared with the outgoing one — and revenues in the outgoing year already came in $400 million below expectations.
Please watch and share my appearance on “CT Pulse” and send me your comments at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov – thank you!
Don’t want 33.8 % health insurance rate hikes?
- Listen to my (attached) interview with WTIC 1080’s Ray Dunaway
- Email me your brief comments about these outrageous proposed hikes at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov .
- Include your name and town in the email.
- Comments can be as brief as you like. (Example: “NO to rate hikes!”)
- I will get your comments to the State Department of Insurance by close of business this Friday.
Please share this info with other consumers who are FED UP!
(Please read and share the following July 28 Hartford Courant editorial for an update on the CT state budget. Send me your comments at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov – thank you!)
Mr. Aresimowicz, Get The Democrats To The Capitol
It’s on you, Joe Aresimowicz.
For many months, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives has known that the state was facing a multibillion-dollar problem. He knew legislators would have to make painful cuts and find creative and fair ways to raise revenues if they had a prayer of solving it.
And they had a deadline. The fiscal year ends Friday.
But now, after mustering zero workable solutions over the past few months and with only hours to go, Mr. Aresimowicz has refused to call for a vote on a reasonable stop-gap budget offered by the governor and supported by the Senate‘s Republican and Democratic leaders.
“I believe my members are less than likely to hop on planes and leave their families at vacation places all over this country and other countries to come in and do a temporary fix,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
He refused to identify for The Courant those Democratic state representatives who chose to go on vacation at a critical time in one of the most serious budget crises the state has ever faced. Leaving town this week is a stunning dereliction of duty.
Mr. Aresimowicz and the rest of the House Democratic caucus are instead choosing to accept spending cuts so drastic that basic social safety nets for some of the state’s most vulnerable will be lost. Cuts to town aid will be so deep that local officials might have to recast their entire budgets. The move also puts the state’s shaky credit rating at further risk.
Apparently realizing that the legislature is incapable of finding its own elbows, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy earlier this week wisely offered legislators the option of passing a “mini-budget” for the next quarter that would allow for some new revenue (much of it already earmarked for certain programs but not yet spent). Without a budget, the governor can’t raise revenue or shift funds. He can only slash millions, cutting services for the sick and the poor and eviscerating school funding grants to towns.
The vote on the mini-budget would have to take place Thursday or Friday. If nothing passes by the end of Friday, the governor’s executive order budget goes into effect.
If Mr. Aresimowicz continues to refuse to call for a vote, the impacts will be felt immediately. It will eliminate services to some clients of the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Rental assistance will be slashed by millions. Funding for summer youth jobs will be completely eliminated.
School funding will see the biggest cuts if the legislature can’t come up with a budget before the fall. How big? Take West Hartford. In the last fiscal year, the city received $20.9 million in state funding for schools. Under the governor’s proposed executive order, West Hartford would receive $4.3 million. Simsbury, which received about $6 million last year, would get zero dollars.
Do the math.
The most frustrating thing is that through these past few months, the legislature wasted time debating and amending bills that didn’t stand a chance of becoming law, and leadership knew it. Mr. Aresimowicz placated members of his caucus by entertaining floor debate on bills such as marijuana legalization that were soon enough left to rot.
How could House Democrats have gone months without coming up with a workable, clear, full-spectrum solution to the state’s $5 billion budget shortfall? Did they not realize that that was their job? Or did their own internal politicking get in the way?
One Democratic effort to fashion a budget failed spectacularly in April when a 262-page detailed spending plan couldn’t even get a vote in the Democrat-controlled appropriations committee. In May, Democrats offered a one-page sketch of a plan, along with a spreadsheet containing more details. Since then, nary a peep from the party nominally in control of the legislature.
Others had their priorities in order.
The Senate and House Republicans, and Mr. Malloy, came up with actual spending plans. Their respective strengths and weaknesses are debatable (Mr. Malloy’s budget director Ben Barnes told The Courant’s editorial board that the House Republican’s plan contained “large pieces of baloney”), but that’s the point — they have offered something to debate.
What have House Democrats offered?
And now they refuse to vote on a measure that would at least keep some basic protections in place.
Mr. Barnes warned that if the legislature refused to vote on the mini-budget, there would be a “significant risk” of another bond rating downgrade from Wall Street. “They are paying close attention to what we are doing,” he said.
Mr. Aresimowicz’s failure to call for a vote, to say nothing of his failure to craft a complete budget proposal that was at least palatable to his own caucus, is an abrogation of a serious responsibility, and the consequences for the people of Connecticut are going to be profound.
It’s mystifying how legislators could be so cavalier about solving the budget problem, the most important thing they have to do.
Connecticut’s Democratic leaders need to ask themselves: Whom do you serve?
Mr. Aresimowicz, call for a vote.
State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, issued the following statement after the governor signed the casino expansion bill into law:
“When the governor signed the casino expansion bill today, he should have said, ‘See you in court,’ because that’s where this issue will be for years and years.
“Has Connecticut now violated the Equal Protection and Commerce clauses of the Constitution by refusing to consider other groups for the state’s first commercial gaming license?
“State taxpayers will now be asked to pay for those significant legal bills as courts determine that answer.
“Economically, it makes little sense to expand casino gambling when the Northeast faces a growing casino glut.
“Socially, the picture is even bleaker. It is well-documented that casinos spread gambling addiction, debt, bankruptcies, broken families, and crime.
“It’s a bad bet all around.
“Make no mistake: A casino somewhere in Fairfield County could one day be our reality.
“This is a David vs. Goliath fight. The forces that want expanded gambling are extremely powerful, but I am proud to say that the following groups have joined me in the fight:
Connecticut Catholic Conference
Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ
Episcopal Church in Connecticut
Connecticut League of Women Voters
Family Institute of Connecticut
New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Connecticut Association for Human Services
Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport
Advocacy Unlimited, Inc.
Farmington Valley American Muslim Center
Resident Bishop New England Conference of the United Methodist Church
American Baptist Churches of Connecticut
“I will continue to work with anyone who does not want to see more people’s lives ruined by expanded Connecticut gambling.
“Visit www.nomorecasinosinct.org to learn how you can help us.”
Health insurer Anthem is requesting an average increase of 33.8 % for policies marketed both on and off the state exchange, Access Health CT.
Yes, 33.8 %.
Health insurer ConnectiCare has requested an average increase of 17.5 % for policies sold exclusively on the exchange.
Yes, 17.5 %.
I have spoken out repeatedly against these outrageous, unaffordable rate hikes, and so can you…this week.
Public comments on the rate hike proposals are being accepted through Friday.
- Send me your comments at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov . Include your name and town.
- Comments can be as brief as you like. (Example: “NO to rate hikes!”)
- I will get them to the State Department of Insurance by close of business Friday.
Please spread the word to other concerned ratepayers!