Reps. Frey and Ferguson Support Revised Budget Proposal in Response to Declining Revenue, No Tax Hikes Necessary

HARTFORD State Representatives John Frey (R-111) and Michael Ferguson (R-138) have joined the House Republican caucus in presenting a revised no-tax increase budget for 2018-19 that eliminates the projected $5 billion budget deficit, increases school funding for all towns, reduces the corporate surcharge and mitigates municipal aid losses by reallocating funds.

The revisions were necessary in light of severely declining tax receipts and updated revenue projections that predict a shortfall of $1.46 billion, which means the projected deficit for the 2018-2019 biennium now exceeds $5 billion.  Additionally, Connecticut is slated to finish the current fiscal year with a deficit for the third year in a row.

This comes following Governor Dan Malloy announcing on Monday an update to the controversial plan he pitched in February.  In the revised proposal, the governor recommends more than $700 million in cuts to municipal aid, including the complete elimination of education aid to Ridgefield.  He also plans to add about $80 million in annual tax hikes to the $600 million in new yearly revenue he recommended three months ago.

“The crucial aspect of the Republican budget for families in Connecticut is that education funding is preserved for all school districts, and we do it without raising taxes,” said Rep. Frey.  “The governor’s proposal balances the budget by slashing education funding – especially special education aid – to cities and towns like Ridgefield.  As it stands in the governor’s proposal, Ridgefield’s education funding is completely eliminated and because of the teacher pension cost shift we will end up with a bill for $2 million.  In our budget proposal, $800,000 per year of education aid to Ridgefield is restored, including $1.7 million per year for special education programs.  Education cuts must be avoided at all costs.”

“I was dismayed to see that the governor still targets hospitals as a source of revenue in his budget update,” said Rep. Ferguson.  “Breaking centuries of tradition and taxing hospitals is the ultimate sign of financial desperation for a state government.  In most states, hospitals are classified as non-profits and considered tax-exempt because they serve as economic engines and primary job creators of their communities.  They provide enormous benefits that drive growth in the health and medical field, as well as all of the ways they work to make their communities healthier.  I will continue to stand with hospitals and oppose any budget that continues this shameful practice.”

In the House Republican budget proposal, every town will see an increase in school funding over current levels.  They relied on significant state employee union concessions and reduced state spending to balance the budget. They also included a wage freeze for state employees, but no layoffs.

“We have to start streamlining our bureaucracy by asking for concessions from state employee unions that make public sector benefits more similar to what everyone else in the private sector gets,” said Rep. Frey.  “Every single one of our state budgets for the past six years has put state employees’ interests before everything else and makes desperate grabs for new revenue wherever money can be found.  Well, how about a budget that advocates for taxpayers instead?  We have to try this new approach before resorting to fanciful ideas for new revenue like tolls and recreational drugs.  Until we stop burdening our taxpayers, we will continue to see revenue shortfalls and fiscal crises.”

Current budget proposals released by Democratic leaders rely on implementing new sources of projected revenue like tolls, marijuana, and casinos, Rep. Ferguson noted.

“This session, we have seen countless ideas for new sources of revenue in Connecticut, especially tolls,” said Rep. Ferguson.  “I think it’s completely irresponsible to include very controversial proposals like tolls, recreational marijuana, and casinos in the budget just because we’re desperate for money.  We can have a conversation about whether they’re good ideas or bad ideas, but we can’t just keep looking for new revenue rather than actually addressing the fundamental changes we need to improve our long term economic outlook.  Our budget is much more responsible and proves that you can balance the budget without raising taxes.”