State Representatives William A. Petit, Jr. (R-22), Whit Betts (R-78), and Cara Pavalock-D’Amato (R-77) voted in support of a compromise budget, noting that it fully restores Medicare Saving Plan funds that were cut, adds money for teachers’ healthcare and provides more money to the Special Transportation Fund without raising taxes.
The final budget plan that passed by a vote of 142-8 on the final day of the legislative session, is the result of lengthy negotiations with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, explained a press release from House Republicans. The budget adjustment does not contain any tax increases, a critical requirement that Republicans insisted on.
“We’ve achieved a compromise budget that helps to ensure the state of Connecticut moves forward. This is by no means a perfect document, but it does provide necessary adjustments to the existing budget which fully restores the Medicare Savings Plan, and provides help for those we need to protect, including the disabled and the elderly. We’ve also addressed Governor Malloy’s holdbacks on municipal aid and educational funding,” said Petit in the press release.
“This budget adjustment is a compromise that does not increase taxes on Connecticut residents. It also funds the Retired Teacher’s Healthcare, and provides aid to assist with emergency placements of the developmentally disabled. The budget allows for the most vulnerable residents to be cared for while moving Connecticut forward,” Betts said in the press release.
“My top priority was to ensure that the Medicare cuts made, which I did not vote for, were reinstated in full so that seniors would not lose their benefits on July 1. Not only does this budget plan restore the Medicare cuts 211 percent, it also provides $1.8 million for State Supplemental Program (Old Age Assistance). While this budget is not perfect, it provides a path forward so that we can continue working on the issues that matter to the people of Connecticut,” said Pavalock-D’Amato in the press release.
The plan also will provide $29 million more to the Special Transportation Fund for road projects by accelerating the existing tax on new cars, the release said. The funding will ramp up dramatically in the coming years, and all municipal aid and education cost sharing funding will remain whole in 2019.
Republicans were able to negotiate numerous provisions from their budget plan into the final legislation, including a hard hiring freeze on new state employees to save $7 million.
In addition the deal features:
$16 million in additional funding for Retired Teachers’ Healthcare to bring the state’s portion of funding to 33 percent.
$5 million for emergency placement for DDS patients
$9.5 million for cost of living increases for private providers
$1.8 million for Old Age Assistance
$1.4 million for Aid to Disabled
$16.2 million for Community Colleges to cover fringe benefit costs
An additional $12.5 million to support VoAg students
$1 million for dairy farmers
Republicans also were successful in including some provisions for long-term structural changes, such as allowing for volunteerism at the local level to ease burdens on towns and cities, and hiring a consultant to come up with $500 million in savings for Connecticut.
The GOP also blocked a proposal that would cut funding for military funerals.
Republicans also secured language in the legislation that would inhibit Gov. Malloy’s ability to cut funding for towns and cities as he did under his authority following the passage of the bipartisan budget last October.
The Senate approved the budget unanimously by a vote of 36-0; it went to the governor’s desk for signing.