Constituents to local legislators: Where’s the budget?

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Plainville’s Republican State Rep. Dr. Petit and Sen. Henri Martin met with constituents last week to discuss the recently concluded session, but attendees were mainly interested in one thing: When will Connecticut have a budget?

Residents voiced concern with the impasse, uncertain if they will see more tax increases. Many who attended the meeting are retired or close to retirement and said they have to manage with what have, which can be difficult if programs are cut and taxes are raised.

“We hear you,” Martin said.

The 2017-18 fiscal year already began on July 1 and the state is running on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive orders until the General Assembly can pass a budget. Petit and Martin told participants that the Republicans produced a budget three months ago but had trouble moving it forward at the Capitol.

“As the minority party, we cannot call the House into session,” Petit said, adding that his caucus made several attempts to bring their proposal forward. “Our budget has been ready since the end of April.”

The legislators explained how House and Senate Republicans drafted a budget during the session. Martin said they knew the deficit was at $3 billion when they began in January, but had to revise the budget to accommodate the now $5 billion problem.

“Then we revised it again,” said Martin, “and we did it without tax increases and we did it line by line.”

In response to questions about how the deficit got so large, Petit said, “A lot of the issue is old debt. Even though it’s not our fault or Gov. Malloy’s fault, it is our responsibility.”

Plainville is not the only community concerned with the state’s fiscal crisis. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities released information last week containing results from a survey that over 60 towns and cities took part in. According to their report, dozens of municipalities implemented hiring freezes, held off on paving local streets, eliminated summer programs, and cut back on multiple services while they await the impact of the budget on their community.

“These survey results present a snapshot of the stresses on local government as they attempt to start their fiscal year with little or no direction from the state regarding the level of state aid they will receive, never mind the level of aid they need,” CCM executive director Joe DeLong said in the release.

Both the House and the Senate created their own proposals, which the legislators said are the same for about 98 percent. Despite the large deficit, they are proposing no tax increases to ease the burden of tax payers across the state. The House Republicans continue to make attempts in Hartford to have their budget reviewed.

State Sen. Henri Martin, left, and State Rep. William Petit.