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Opinion: A Q&A on the Connecticut economic & fiscal crisis

Fred Wilms

Connecticut’s fiscal year ended June 30th and we still do not have a State budget. Meanwhile we face a $5 billion budget deficit, our economic & fiscal crisis continues to spiral downwards and we seem to be heading towards Puerto Rico or Illinois.
Below are the budget questions I get asked the most:
Why don’t we have a State budget? Because the Senate and House Democrats (who are in the majority) have failed to produce complete versions. They were supposed to produce complete budgets by the end of April – and failed. Then they were supposed to produce them by the end of session June 7th – and failed. Then by the end of the June 30th fiscal year – and failed. Most recently it was supposed to be by July 18th – but failed yet again.

OK. So what have you been doing? Both the House and Senate GOP caucuses produced complete budgets in April. I am proud to have been a leader of the House budget team – we worked many late nights in March and April. The House GOP has since updated our budget three times to capture unfolding developments. The House GOP budget has no tax increases, no financial gimmicks, protects town aid plus protects social services.

So the Governor, House GOP and Senate GOP produced complete budget proposals, but the House Democrats and Senate Democrats did not? That is correct.

So why wait for the Democrats to get their act together? Why not just vote your complete GOP budgets through yourselves? We cannot. Since both the House and Senate GOP are in the minority, we cannot call ourselves into session nor can we call our budgets up for a vote. The House and Senate Democratic majority leaders, which have those powers, have refused.

So why doesn’t the Governor bypass the Senate/House Democrats and cut a budget deal with the House and Senate GOP? From our end – that would be fantastic! Our leaders have met with the Governor on multiple occasions and we have repeatedly offered to work together. Unfortunately Governor Malloy does not seem interested. Nonetheless we remain ready to negotiate and vote anytime.

With no budget, how is the State functioning? Governor Malloy has been issuing executive orders, and will continue doing so until a budget is achieved.

With your House GOP budget, what are the big cost savings? The biggest are employee wage freezes, furlough days and realignment of employee benefits to private sector levels in the areas of pension, healthcare and post-retirement health care (OPEB).

What other savings are there? We consolidate numerous state agencies, eliminate excess functions, reduce the workforce by 10 percent and significantly lower debt service cost through reduced borrowings.

What about town aid to Norwalk? The House GOP budget protects total aid to Norwalk and all towns at last year’s level.

What is NOT in the House GOP budget? Higher income or sales taxes, highway tolls, legalized marijuana, new casino revenues, the hospital property tax, making towns pay for teacher pensions or budgetary accounting gimmicks.

Where can I get detailed data on the House GOP budget? The website is www.cthousegop.com/budget. There are specific tabs for Budget Appropriations, Municipal Aid Runs, Policy and Current Services Changes, Revenue Changes and State Employee Savings. Furthermore please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with any questions.

State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142) represents Norwalk and New Canaan.

2 comments

Isabelle Hargrove July 17, 2017 at 4:01 pm

If only Norwalkers had had the courage to vote Senator Duff out of office. The Senate would have been 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats. The choice was that important…

Rick July 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm

If only Norwalkers knew what goes on ,then again most don’t know where city hall is located .

Not too late to hear back from you Fred ,Quintard ave still could use your help it became a state issues once it hit the courts if your still using the same parameters .

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