Markley: Democratics Requesting More Than Malloy

by Christopher O'Brien

By Joe Markley

Back in February, the Governor claimed his budget reduced spending by $1.8 billion. In fact, his proposed budget actually increased state spending by nearly 10% over two years.  All he did was trim the rate of government growth; he made no actual reduction in spending.  In fact, the state will spend an additional $2.9 billion over the next two years under the governor’s proposal.

 

Now the Appropriations Committee has made a bad budget worse, spending approximately $55 million more than the Governor requested.

 

It bears repeating: we need to get our fiscal house in order. The Appropriations proposed budget not only increases spending but is also imbalanced. The majority party wants to redefine the budget cap, which is the height of hypocrisy. The spending cap has been changed repeatedly since it was put into place over twenty years ago, in the aftermath of passage of the state income tax.  In every case, spending has been removed from the cap—it’s a one-way deal, designed to thwart the clear will of the taxpayers.

 

While the Appropriations Committee was making its budget recommendations, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee restored taxes that were set to sunset, including the temporary 20% surcharge on corporations, which was due to expire on June 31, 2013, and the tax on insurance premium credits.

 

Other new charges include restoration of the clothing and shoe tax on items under $50, a digital down load tax, and a scheduled increase this summer in the petroleum gross receipts tax from 7% to 8.1%.  The finance committee also proposes to increase fees on cremation and marriage licenses.

 

The Governor said he was helping the middle class by eliminating the property tax on cars.  I’m all for cutting taxes, but getting rid of the car tax with no offsetting revenue leaves our cities and towns with major revenue losses. The Finance Committee recommended putting of this car tax change until 2018—presumably we’ll have a better idea by then.

 

Malloy’s proposed budget also made deep cuts in aid to hospitals. The Appropriations Committee agreed with those cuts, reducing hospital funding by $550 million over two years.  Hospital administrators and doctors have expressed great concern over this proposal.  Hospitals bear many costs already without reimbursement, and this will put them in a more vulnerable position.  Jobs will be lost, patient care might be jeopardized, and communities could lose their cornerstone.

 

The Appropriations Committee also suggests providing $3.75 million in operating expenses for the New Britain-Hartford Busway–a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

 

A budget is a statement on the direction you wish to take the state.  A 10% increase in spending over the next two years, while revenues fall short of forecasts and labor savings are only half of what was predicted, definitely heads our state the wrong way.

 

The chairs of these powerful committees will now meet with the Governor and his staff to negotiate a final budget that will be voted on by the full general assembly.  If it’s anything like the fiasco currently before us, I will not be supporting this budget.

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