Following months of negotiations, the Connecticut House of Representatives joined the state Senate in overwhelmingly approving a bipartisan budget that ended our state’s budget stalemate and the fear and uncertainty that having no budget has created for our municipalities, businesses and social service providers.
This bipartisan, two-year state budget:
- Avoids the drastic education cuts contained in the Governor’s Executive Order;
- Restores significant funding to UConn, our state and local independent colleges;
- Invests in our tech schools and workforce development programs;
- Protects many of the social service and youth services programs our residents rely on, including Care4Kids and disabilities funding;
- Does not have widespread sales or income tax increases;
- Rejects Gov. Malloy’s plan to make local towns pay for state pension obligations;
Now that the prolonged budget debate is behind us and with the next legislative session slated to commence in the coming few months, we can redirect our focus to passing bills that strengthen our economy and improve the quality of life in our state.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any issues or concerns regarding state matters.
Emil “Buddy” Altobello
In order to address structural problems that have led to deficits, we have implemented the following reforms to help get Connecticut’s fiscal house back in order.
Spending and Bonding Cap: The budget we passed strengthened our existing spending cap. Under the new cap, funding for pensions, distressed municipalities, and money used to receive matching federal grants will all come under the cap over time. This is important because it more accurately reflects what we are spending as a state and will force the legislature to prioritize spending on programs that work and that our communities need. The budget also created a $1.9 billion cap on state bonding. With this cap, by reducing bonding this year, we expect to save nearly $30 million in debt service payments in the next fiscal year.
Jobs and the Economy
Legislation passed to help foster business expansion and job growth include:
- Expansion of a tax credit for investors to support small business and provide access to business mentors;
- Creation of a business information hotline to provide prospective small business owners with one-stop advice, education and network resources;
- Creation of a new Workforce Training Authority to provide businesses and workers with access to customized training programs that link to hiring and coordinated services.
Connecticut’s aging transportation infrastructure has a real impact on our bottom line. According to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the average motorist in CT pays an extra $864 per year because of driving on roads that are in need of repair. That’s why I’m glad that, as part of this budget, we agreed to a long-term plan to move more sales tax revenue into the Special Transportation Fund. These resources will help the fund stay solvent. There is still a lot more we need to do, but this was an important step forward.
Renters' Rebate is an important program for our seniors and those who are totally disabled to be able to afford to stay in their homes. A change that came with the state budget was transferring the administration of the renters’ rebate program to the towns. Upon learning about the delay this would cause, I immediately advocated that our legislative leaders restore the program to the way it worked in prior years. And we were successful in doing so. Approved renters should expect to receive checks in December.
Childcare for Working Families
With the State budget that passed we were able to restore funding to the Care 4 Kids child care subsidy program. This funding will allow for the program to reopen enrollment and begin to address the 5,769 families who have been on the waiting list. This program helps families afford safe, quality child care and allows parents to remain in the workforce.
Brownfield Remediation and Revitalization
Connecticut has done a lot to incentivize the cleaning up of polluted industrial sites. This law takes the next step by creating a framework for organizing and operating Connecticut Brownfield Land Banks, which are local nonprofit land banks that will acquire and remediate brownfields and sell the properties for redevelopment. The land banks will be eligible to access the Brownfield Remediation and Revitalization Program and they will be allowed to remediate one section of a brownfield at a time. This program helps to expand our already strong brownfield remediation programs and affirms Connecticut commitment to the environment.
This year we passed a bill that allows municipalities to provide a property tax exemption to a parent or surviving spouse of a service member killed in action while performing active military duty. A municipality may exempt up to $20,000 or 10% of the property’s assessed value.
Social Security Tax Exemption For Seniors
As a part of the budget, we passed a provision phasing in an exemption of social security and pensions from the state income tax starting in 2019. This will help provide much needed tax relief to those who most need it and allow them to keep more of their own money.