GOP Viewpoint: Republican budget is a new direction

In a recent column about the state budget, I noted that Republicans have proven they are ready to lead the state in a new direction. During the legislative session, we proposed three no-tax-increase budgets that reduced state spending and made important changes to the way municipalities and education are funded by the state. Unfortunately, Democrat leaders in the legislature have refused to debate any Republican budget proposals.

During the last week of the fiscal year, which ended on June 30, Democrat Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz dismissed calls to bring the House into special session vote at least on a temporary budget to continue funding vital social service for the elderly and disabled.

Instead the Speaker called for a session on July 18 to pass a portion of state House Democrats revised budget, which calls for a 10% increase in the sales (from 6.35% to 6.99%) while also retaining the 7% luxury tax. In addition, the Democrat plan includes a tax on food and beverages in restaurants at 7.99%.

The date the Speaker chose is significant because state employee unions are expected to have voted on a concession package negotiated by Gov. Dannel Malloy. Aresimowicz is employed by one of the unions and seems confident the package will be approved since he included it in his budget proposal.

Legislative Republicans have pointed out, and moderate Democrats agree that the package is weak and does not go far enough to address the long-term structural costs that are choking the state. It also includes a five-year no-layoff provision and job guarantees to the year 2027 that would be disastrous if another recession hits during that time.

Connecticut should follow states that were bold enough to make hard choices and implement reforms needed to repair their failing economies.

North Carolina, more than any other state in recent years, has provided a model for what pro-growth tax reform and conservative fiscal policy looks like. In 2010, the state had the highest personal and corporate income tax rates in the region. After enactment of multiple rounds of tax relief, the state soon will have a personal income tax rate that is 32% lower than what the top rate was only four years ago. And the corporate rate, which was reduced by more than 63% since 2013, is now the lowest corporate income tax rate among states that impose such a tax. Once again, North Carolina’s legislators are providing tax cuts and surplus dollars back to their residents.

These moves are part of the reason North Carolina has gone from having one of the worst businesses tax climates in the country (ranked 44th), to one of the 11 best, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

We can face these challenges and create a brighter future for our state, but we must act now. We only have to look to Illinois and Puerto Rico to see what putting off difficult decisions will do. We must not allow our state to get to that point.

By passing the proposed Senate Republican budget when the legislature next meets, we can begin the repair of Connecticut’s failing fiscal climate. We can then explore tax cuts that will bring much needed economic momentum to the state.

Sen. Toni Boucher represents the 26th District, which includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

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  • Michael Trahan

    The Connecticut Senate Republican “No Tax Increase” budget proposal may move Connecticut in a new direction, but it certainly relies heavily on a utility customer bailout and revenue gimmicks to get there. nnLittle mention is made of Senate Republican’s reach into the pockets of CT electric and gas utility customers to take $162 million in existing utility customer energy efficiency and renewable energy account money over the next two years. nnSenate Republicans plan to take another $52 million from a second account called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that also funded by electric bill payers. That money is used to lower energy bills for oil customers. nnnnTogether, that’s more than $200 million in new taxes in Senate Republican plan. nnThis is the kind of budget trickery that got us into the state budget mess in the first place. Senate Republicans were critical of taking utility customer money when Democrats tried this gimmick last year. Now this utility customer bailout is part of the Republican’s new direction for CT.nn The Senate GOP plan impacts all Eversource or United Illuminating electric customers, and also customers from Connecticut Natural Gas, Connecticut Yankee or Southern Connecticut Gas.nnGoing outside the normal budget process and sweeping in off-budget account money paid for, and built by, utility customers to serve utility customers is short-sighted. To suggest to utility customers that using THEIR money to bail out state government is a good method for repairing CT’s failing fiscal climate and that this raid on utility customers money is not really a tax in disguise is wrong.

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