Walker Announces Appropriations BudgetApril 30, 2019
Rep. Toni Walker and her co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Cathy Osten, announced their $43.3 billion budget proposal today for the next two fiscal years. The committee later in the day debated the proposal and then approved it. The legislation now will be considered by leaders of the House and Senate, the governor's office and the co-chairs of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
The biennial budget:
- Ensures that children have the opportunities and support to live up to their potential
- Funds the Education Cost Sharing formula according to current law
- Funds an effective and nationally respected juvenile justice programs
- Supports Connecticut’s seniors who are on a fixed income
- Provides money to the state’s community college program
The leaders said the proposal hews to sound fiscal constraints:
- The budget remains under the state’s spending cap and is less than one-fourth of one percent higher than the Gov. Ned Lamont’s spending proposal
- Driven largely by increased fixed costs, the budget growth is 1.9 percent in fiscal year 2020 and 3.6 percent in 2021.
Representative Walker and Senator Osten said the GOP annual mantra is: “Where are the cuts?” The co-chairs said they held the line in many areas, but – as in many previous legislative sessions – Republicans this year did not propose any bills to cut specific amounts to a specific agency, program or service.
“This is the beginning of the process of working with the leadership of the House and Senate, the governor’s office and the co-chairs of the Finance Committee to reach an agreement on the many things we feel are important,” Walker said. “Our state has many needs but limited resources so we have to prioritize where our money will be spent. This budget, I believe, is fair and protects those programs critical for Connecticut to move forward,” Walker said.
“This is an honest, line-by-line budget that increases local education funding, increases our investments in job training, and continues the promises we made the last two years in our bipartisan budget,” Osten said. “Our General Fund budget proposal is slightly higher than Governor Lamont’s proposed General Fund budget, but most of that is due to reversing his proposed ECS cuts, so I think that’s something teachers, students and local property tax payers will appreciate.”
Making key changes to Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget, the Appropriations budget:
- Declines the governor’s proposal for an asset test for the Medicare Savings Program and increases funding for Meals on Wheels
- Preserves the bipartisan Education Cost Sharing formula enacted last year and protects towns from cuts in state aid after their budgets are approved
- Protects mental health programs by rejecting the proposed privatization of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
- Funding for Juvenile Justice Outreach
- Funding for services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities including employment and day services for new high school graduates
- Money preserved for mental health and substance abuse grants
- Funding for job training and employment programs
The committee leaders addressed a number of Lamont’s concerns and found cost savings from in-sourcing work by adequately staffing the Contracting Standards Board.
About 70 percent of the state’s Personal Service Agreements are not competitively bid annually, according to the Contracting Standards Board – that’s literally billions of dollars – and the co-chairs estimate that the Board, when adequately staffed, can work with our agencies to find at least a few million dollars in savings.
The budget also calls for more investment in workforce development by helping the unemployed connect with employers through programs such as the manufacturing pipeline initiative. There is also funding for youth employment and the establishment of a re-entry pilot program for filling jobs.
In addition, the budget envisions opening the highway welcoming centers in West and East Willington, Danbury, Middletown, North Stonington, Southington and Wallingford.
The state also must invest in making health care more affordable through a “public option” to allow small businesses and residents to join a state health insurance program, they said.