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No-Tax Increase Alternative Budget Versus $1.9 Billion Tax Increase

The following is a press release sent by Jodi Latina on behalf of State Senator Toni Boucher.

Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) along with Republican legislative leaders Tuesday unveiled a no-tax increase balanced budget proposal for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. 

“If states like New York and New Jersey can pass balanced budgets with no tax increases then so can Connecticut,” Boucher said. “We owe it to the people of our state. As evidence by Connecticut’s 100,000 job losses and a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, higher than the national average for the first time in recent history it is clear that the general public has already shared the pain. By not tackling the problem during the height of the recession we delayed making tough decisions that now must be made. It is now time for state government to shoulder the responsibility of closing our budget gap without taxing hardworking families more.”

Boucher points out that Connecticut’s tax free day is May 2. The first day working families stop paying federal, state and local taxes and start keeping their hard earned money. It is the latest tax free day in the nation, which clearly shows that our residents have the highest tax burden in the country.

By focusing on core government functions, eliminating waste and creating efficiencies, the Republican Alternative Budget significantly reduces the size and cost of government while protecting the social safety net and preserving state aid to municipalities.

“The Republican Alternative Budget is a blueprint for ending Connecticut’s current fiscal crisis and helping to prevent a future crisis,” said Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-28). 

The issue with the is that it works off of a “current services” budget. The current services budget includes future revenues and spending that assumes taxes and state services will continue to grow along with state employee wage and benefit increases that have continued to go up substantially even in our worst years. Malloy’s budget that ends in 2012, is $1.75 billion higher than this year’s spending an increase of 9.8 percent. This is not sustainable.

Highlights of the Republican Alternative Budget include: 

  • No new taxes on any business, individual, employer, service or good.
  • More than $1.5 billion in spending cuts from Malloy’s plan.
  • Preservation of municipal aid at current levels for all towns and cities.
  • Enhanced Medicaid fraud detection to save an estimated $224 million.
  • More than $46 million in savings through agency consolidations.
  • Streamlining government through attrition and reductions to the 54,000 member state workforce.
  • No borrowing for state operating expenses.
  • Full restoration of the $500 property tax credit cut by Malloy.
  • The pre-payment of $200 million in the state’s highest cost debt, allowing greater flexibility in budgeting throughout state agencies.
  • Restoration of the sales tax free week to help Connecticut consumers support household budgets.
  • Elimination of longevity payments for state employees.   

Of the proposed reductions in state-funded positions, 1,250 would be targeted toward management. The Bipartisan Commission on Enhanced Agency Outcomes recommended that Connecticut cut in half the number of managers to come in line with the private sector.

“Our proposal achieves its objective by refocusing government on its core functions, eliminating waste and redundancy, and beginning the process of restructuring state government for the long-term,” McKinney said.

Boucher believes part of weeding out waste involves looking at the extremely generous practice of longevity pay. The nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates these twice-a-year bonuses for thousands of state employees who are simply on the job, will cost the state’s General and Special Transportation Fund $34.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years.

Connecticut state employees begin receiving longevity payments upon reaching 10 years of state service. Those payments increase after state workers reach 15, 20 and 25 years of service. These bonuses are provided in addition to cost of living adjustments and are based solely on a person’s years of service, not job performance.

“This example underscores the need to look at expensive and unsustainable costs embedded in the unionized state employee contracts,” Boucher said. “These contracts have for years been rubberstamped without the vote of the House and Senate. Connecticut rules permit the legislature to review and vote on every state union contract. But what is not known to the general public is for years the practice has been to put these contracts on the calendar without taking a vote, the result? They are automatically approved. We need to have accountability."

Boucher believes this Republican alternative is a responsible way to get Connecticut out of its fiscal crisis. Other neighboring states have balanced the budget without increasing taxes, and Connecticut can do the same if the governor and both sides of the aisle seriously consider this new alternative.

Boucher presents this call to action: “Now is the time for the people to contact their legislators and the governor’s office to tell them there is another way.”

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