GOP budget plan would lift pension burden from towns

A state budget proposal introduced Thursday by Republican legislators would increase education aid in Wilton and other towns, and would eliminate the teacher pension contributions Gov. Dannel Malloy wants to impose on towns and municipalities, but it would cut other forms of state municipal aid.

All of Wilton’s legislators — state Reps. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Tom O’Dea (R-125) and state Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) support what the GOP is calling the Confident Connecticut budget proposal, unveiled on April 27. A press release said the $35.7-billion spending plan — which is an alternative to the proposal Malloy introduced in February and a proposal Democrats withdrew earlier this week —  could be approved by the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee with three votes from Democrats.

What works for Wilton in this budget:

  • The Education Cost Sharing Grant: $518,998 in each of the two years (FY 18 and FY 19) compared to zero allocated in the governor’s budget. In FY 17, Wilton received $462,941.

  • Special Education Grant: $954,011. The governor’s budget had earmarked $431,204 for FY 18. This replaces the Excess Cost Grant, under which Wilton had averaged $1 million.

Lavielle’s office did not have town-by-town municipal aid numbers on Friday. The sales tax revenue sharing plan would be eliminated under this proposal.

“We have built a balanced budget that would not increase taxes, get state spending under control, and restore confidence in Connecticut for businesses and taxpayers,” Lavielle said in a press release. “There is much to like, especially when compared with the governor’s highly controversial proposal.”

The budget seeks to make Connecticut more affordable for retirees, she said, by:

  • Phasing in the federal exemption level on the estate tax and lowering the lifetime cap;

  • Exempting Social Security from income tax for middle-income seniors;

  • Phasing out the income tax on pensions and annuities.

“I hope our proposal will be the foundation for a budget that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and I can work together to pass through the legislature,” Lavielle said.

The Republican plan, which spends $313 million less than the governor’s budget, would also establish a constitutional spending cap.

“Virtually everyone agrees, from the governor on down, that Connecticut residents are over-taxed,” O’Dea said. “This proposed budget that we have put out cuts taxes by eliminating the gift and estate tax along with the tax on social security. While it makes some difficult choices regarding cuts to virtually every state agency, it gets us back on the pathway to economic strength and recovery, the key to which is job growth.”

Boucher acknowledged, “Cuts were necessary and not everyone is going to like them, but action is necessary to stop the flow of jobs and people who are leaving Connecticut every day. Most importantly, our budget alternative proposal increases education funding and restores money for core services without shifting financial burdens onto towns, hospitals or nonprofits.”

The GOP budget still faces financial hurdles. According to a report in the CT Mirror, the proposal is still “out of balance” by more than $1 billion because of a recent downturn in state income tax receipts.