Republican Budget Devastates District

September 16, 2017

Early Saturday morning, the House of Representatives debated and voted on a Republican budget. I could not in good conscience vote for this budget. I could not vote to put an additional load on already overburdened working families.

I could not vote to eliminate vital services and programs that many of our friends and neighbors rely on. Out of obligation to the people of the 104th District, and the State of Connecticut, I voted against this budget. Unfortunately, the House passed that budget. But, I cannot fathom what would happen if this budget was actually adopted into state law.

Republicans have stated again and again that this budget contains “no new taxes.” The truth is there would be over $800 million in new taxes and fees. This is not my analysis, but is, in fact, according to the analysis of Office of Fiscal Analysis, which is the nonpartisan staff responsible for these analysis.

First off, the GOP budget triples the cut to Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a tax credit that was established to help working families during these difficult economic times. This huge cut will eliminate the relief that so many local individuals rely on. This cut alone will raise taxes on more than 2,500 individuals and families here in Ansonia and Derby.

This budget also eliminates the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account (MRSA) which is specifically designed to reimburse cities, like Ansonia and Derby, for capping the personal property tax (car tax) at 37 mills. This elimination will result in the mill rate increasing and everyone’s car tax being increased.

In Ansonia and Derby, eliminating the car tax cap and the state reimbursement would result in a revenue loss of almost $212,000. How would these cities fill that hole? Ultimately, residents’ property taxes would increase to make up for the difference.

Over the last few months, under the leadership of House Democrats and my stewardship, an agreement with local hospitals was established to help offset the tax on hospitals. This agreement would preserve quality care and jobs. With this budget in play, there is a good chance that this historic agreement could blow up and with it, jobs will be lost and critical care protocols will be compromised.

In addition to taxes, programs that small cities like ours rely on would be eliminated. The Community Investment Act for example, has continuously provided this district with grants for projects to improve our local community. Overall, the program has funded nearly 1,400 projects statewide and has created approximately 3,000 jobs with $152 million invested in our state. The elimination of this program will hinder critical economic development.

Additionally, this budget eliminates programs that help residents most in need. Cuts to mental health, teen pregnancy, and anti-poverty are all included in this budget. It does not provide working families and their children with the tools they need.

In regards to education, the GOP budget defunds education for the neediest, eliminates minority advancement in higher education, and all leadership training programs. Our flagship university, UCONN, just recently voted #18 on the best colleges list, will be devastated.

Our very successful Citizens Elections Program (CEP) is also eliminated, returning the influence of special interest monies and making it more difficult for regular individuals to run for office. In fact, a former opponent of mine just recently spoke to me about this. He urged me to fight for this program which allowed him the opportunity to run for office.

These are only a few of the problems and concerns I have and that is just skimming through it. It is bad for this district and bad for this state. Fortunately, the Governor has stated that he would veto the budget. It is “unbalanced” and raises “significant concerns,” especially in regards to municipal aide, education and pension changes.

I hope that both sides will move forward with a sense of urgency to pass a responsible budget that supports working families, enables our children to succeed, helps our most vulnerable and restores clean elections. We need to do what is best for this state. We need to put our state on a better and more sustainable long-term path.