Toni Boucher: Loss of people is what’s hurting the state

As the Senate considered a $19.76 state spending plan on Thursday, May 12, Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) issued the following statement on the floor on the budget and mandate relief for schools. The Senate passed the budget 21-15. It goes to the House of Representatives in a special session today, May 13.
“Connecticut is a beautiful state, we love it here. People would like to stay here if they could. But given that Connecticut has collected more in tax revenue than ever after two historic tax hikes on just about everything, it is an embarrassment the state is in deficit, and will continue to be, even with the one-time cuts planned in this budget.

“This punishing budget hurts school children, hospitals, the sick, mentally ill or those struggling with drug addiction and substance abuse. Yet it protects the wages, healthcare and retirement plans of all unionized state workers. In fact, Connecticut pays more for each state employee than any other state in the nation. People are angry and hurting, not just at the national level, but even more here in Connecticut because its citizens are taxed more than those in any other state.

“The truth is, state pensions are the least funded in the U.S., after Illinois. Bonded debt sat at $22.5 billion in 2015, up nearly 40% since 2008. Additionally, unemployment taxes and workers compensation costs have put a stranglehold on business. Connecticut has grown the least number of jobs and has the highest unemployment rate in New England.

“Democrats proposing this irresponsible budget maintain that Wall Street is the problem with declining tax revenues. I would say, no, Connecticut does not have a Wall Street problem; it has a moving van problem. From 2011 and 2013, 27,000 people left Connecticut. An average of 38 people and $5.2 million leave the state every day.  In 2014 Connecticut lost over 13,000 people more than it took in, with some leaving to Massachusetts or New York.”

“The no-tax pledge by the Democratic leadership has been broken, in this budget, that is a killer to so many towns. This budget, that reduces ECS funding to our towns, will translate into higher property taxes on residents, on the elderly, particularly those on a fixed income, and on our businesses. If the majority party will not return any of the state taxes that these towns pay, then the schools need mandate relief. Note that our towns receive back only 1 to 2 cents on every dollar they pay to the state. Our large cities, however receive as much as $1.50 on every dollar that they pay to the state coffers.”

A press release from her office said Boucher proposed a budget amendment on the Senate floor to remove some of the education mandates for schools whose funding was severely cut in the Democratic budget. It included the removal of the common school calendar mandate. She also proposed amendments to enact a real spending cap, the elimination of the $250 business entity tax, the restoration of funds for services to victims of rape and domestic violence, as well as services for children’s mental health. A final amendment  she proposed would require a fiscal note for every bill that shows economic decline or growth for any taxes enacted or removed.

The budget now before the House would send Wilton a total of $666,263 in education aid in fiscal year 2017, a decrease of $795,708 (-54.4%) from the current fiscal year.