Republican Budget Devastates Waterbury

September 16, 2017

Early Saturday morning, I voted against a Republican budget proposal that would move our state in the wrong direction. I could not vote to put an additional load on working families. I could not vote to eliminate vital services and programs that many of our friends and neighbors rely on. In good conscience, I could not vote for the Republican 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.” In actuality, there would be over $1.5 billion in new taxes, fees, and revenue. This is not my analysis, but is, in fact, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

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 12,400 individuals and families in Waterbury.

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

In Waterbury, eliminating the car tax cap and the state reimbursement would result in a revenue loss of approximately $11,311,288, the second highest loss in the state after Hartford. And how would Waterbury fill that hole? Ultimately, residents’ property taxes would increase to make up for the difference.

There are also many hidden fees that the Republican budget tries to hide. For example, section 153 of their budget includes a tax increase on every public school teacher in the state. Every public school teacher has to contribute 1% of their salary for half of this year, and 2% of all of next year's salary to the state's general fund. However, the Republicans have cleverly written section 153 so that the word “teacher” never actually appears. You have to go to 10-183b in the Connecticut General Statutes to find out that it is teacher salary money that's being taken for the general fund.

The budget also increases business taxes by eliminating the Angel Investor Tax Credit which will stifle small businesses and entrepreneurship. Businesses are the lifelines of our economy and I worry the elimination of this tax credit will hinder further economic development. In addition to eliminating tax deductions for utility companies (Cogeneration Facilities,) which will cause increases in electric rates, the Republican budget also increases hospital taxes and adds 10% admissions tax to entertainment and sports events at XL Center/Webster Bank Arena and other venues.

These are only a few of the problems and concerns I have with this budget and that is just scratching the surface. Waterbury will take a massive hit with this Republican budget proposal. Residents will be paying more taxes and thousands of families will feel the impact. There's no doubt that this budget is balanced on the backs of folks in our community. Families already work hard to provide for their loved ones and there's no reason for them to be paying more.

Fortunately, the governor has said that he would veto the budget because it raises “significant concerns,” especially in regards to municipal aide, education and pension changes.

We need to do what is best for this state. 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, and maintains vital services.