A new governor and General Assembly will be seated in January, putting the Democratic Party once again in full control of the legislative process, the budget and the votes.
The last two years brought a unique, if brief, period of balance in the Connecticut Senate. For the first time in 100 years, the state senate was tied: 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats. This led to bipartisanship which temporarily resolved some very difficult budget issues. Take the recently passed state budget as an example.
The revised state budget incorporated Republican ideas, and the positive results spoke for themselves. It contained:
- No new tax increases.
- No tolls.
- No hikes to bus fares.
- No hikes to train fares.
- No teacher pension costs diverted from the state to town budgets.
- No regional tax initiatives moved forward.
In addition, the bipartisan budget contained thoughtful, compassionate policies which put people first. It:
- Maintained new retiree tax breaks for pension and social security income.
- Provided $16 million to the Retired Teachers’ Healthcare Fund to provide a full statutory contribution of 33%.
- Restored funding for the Medicare Savings Program in full to all 169,450 seniors.
- Restored funding for HUSKY A coverage for 13,000 low-income working parents who otherwise would have lost coverage.
- Fully funded the Renters Rebate program, protecting 48,000 people.
The bipartisan budget also protected property taxpayers. It:
- Restored full funding for Municipal Aid.
- Fully funded the Fiscal Year 2019 enacted Education Cost Sharing grants.
- Rejected the governor’s proposal to eliminate the $200 property tax credit.
And don’t forget last year’s bipartisan budget. That bipartisan budget:
- Made structural reforms to government that have eluded lawmakers for decades.
- Enacted a strong and defined state constitutional spending cap, which was approved by voters over 25 years ago.
- Included a bonding cap.
- Provided significant municipal mandate relief.
All of this is good news, but the question now is: Will the bipartisanship continue?
Consider the following:
- Tolls could soon be everywhere in Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Transportation put out a draft map which contained 82 — yes, 82 tolls — throughout our state.
- Gov.-Elect Lamont recently stated that “the more affluent school districts are going to have to do more on their own. I can’t afford to subsidize everybody out there.” This policy of de-funding schools in Fairfield County would most assuredly bring about large property tax hikes.
- A left-leaning think tank which has the ear of the Democratic Party in Connecticut wants lawmakers and the governor to remove caps on state government spending and borrowing. Such a move would reverse a hard-fought bipartisan effort to place protections on how your state government spends your taxpayer dollars.
I urge area taxpayers to stay informed on these issues and monitor them closely. We all love our state and we all want to see Connecticut thrive. Because we love our state, we need policies which put taxpayers first and allow our economy to grow. Hold your elected officials accountable and let them know you are watching.
Editor’s Note: Boucher will be replaced by Democrat Will Haskell when the legislature returns to session Jan. 9, 2019.