Hartford residents were clear winners in this budget since it lowers property taxes by nearly half on all vehicles registered in the City. Vehicle taxes will drop from over 74 mills to a new rate of 37 mills starting July 1, 2016 and then drops to 32 mills in 2017. The session was dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we approved a budget that is balanced, without tax or fee increases, without borrowing, and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund. Keeping Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family is our ongoing responsibility. Though the 2016 legislative session presented one of the toughest budget challenges in decades, we succeeded to help move our state forward.
There are no smoke and mirrors with this budget – it is a budget that cuts spending by $830 million. It cuts spending:
- Without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund
- Without borrowing
- Without tax increases
We made structural changes that reduce long-term obligations and create a more sustainable budget over time including:
- Non-union state employee wage freeze & insurance co-pay increase
- A salary pension cap for retiring non-union state employees
- Reduction in the size of state government
We are delaying some of the Governor’s transportation initiative in order to protect legislative priorities like:
- Hospital funding
- School funding
- Property tax relief
- Funding for state colleges and universities
Recruiting Minority Teachers
Research has shown that a diverse teaching workforce that reflects the students they serve improves outcomes and inspires students of color and English language learners to pursue higher education. As in most states across the country, teachers of color are underrepresented in Connecticut schools.
We passed a law to help recruit more minority teachers by improving the existing Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force which:
- Increases the size and scope of the task force
- Requires a review of existing state-sponsored recruitment efforts
- Explores pathways for existing school employees to gain teaching certification
We also passed legislation encouraging minority students to pursue a college degree in education by creating a pilot program in towns that are home to state universities and teacher preparation programs. The program would allow minority students to:
- Earn college credits while still in high school
- Take an introductory course in education
Standing Up for Veterans
We stand by our veterans. I am proud to report that we passed new laws that enhance areas of job attainment, entrepreneurship, and quality of life issues for veterans, and approved a resolution that urges the nation’s leaders to provide VA benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
New legislation will:
- Give a price preference of up to 15% for veteran-owned businesses bidding on state contracts.
- Broaden the scope of the law that bars discriminatory practices in our state’s armed forces.
- Require the Labor Commissioner to establish a clearinghouse to help highly-trained veterans and armed forces members find jobs that match their unique skill sets; a database will be created to match them with available jobs.