HARTFORD, Conn. –The legislature approved an $18.9 billion state budget plan this weekend that preserves municipal aid and preschool funding. The budget repeals keno but gambles on future revenue collection and unidentified savings.
Legislators in the House debated and passed the plan on a 91-55, mostly party line vote with Democratic Reps. Edward Moukawsher, Frank Nicastro, and Daniel Rovero joining Republicans in opposing it. A few hours later the Senate voted 21-15 to give the bill final passage early Sunday morning. Democratic Sen. Joan Hartley voted with Republicans against it.
Legislative Democrats and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration negotiated the budget this week after budget analysts concluded the $505 million surplus anticipated earlier had dropped to about $43.3 million based on disappointing income tax revenue.
“Let’s face it, we’re all humbled at the fact that budget projections really rely on the best guess of economists and fiscal analysts and those estimates can fluctuate so many states across the country have had to revise numbers,” Senate President Donald Williams said.
The new plan assumes that the Department of Revenue Services will, in 2015, collect an additional $75 million in unpaid taxes from tax delinquents identified last year during the tax amnesty process.
“This budget is on time, balanced without any new taxes, and under the state spending cap. It invests in our children’s education, helps working families, encourages economic growth, and bolsters the Rainy Day Fund to protect taxpayers from future budget fluctuations,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said in a statement.
Republicans, however, claimed the budget is built on faulty premises. House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero compared the budget to superficial repairs to a house in order to get its sellers through closing day. He said lawmakers were using “Band Aids and duct tape” and a fresh coat of paint to prop the budget up through the next Election Day rather than address its fundamental problems.
“We have water in our basement and our roof is leaking. If we’re honest people, and I believe we are, we have to tell that to the people of the state of Connecticut and we have to fix the roof,” he said. “The budget that’s before us now is a house built on a faulty foundation and unless and until we change that foundation, that house will crumble.”
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