In a historic vote, fiscally conservative Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to approve a state budget bill that cuts spending and does not increase taxes. This was a much needed victory for our state and its taxpayers. Personally, seeing this shift started by three Democrats in the Senate was incredibly gratifying. My colleagues and I have worked so hard, presenting our tenth alternative budget, which we continued to update for each projected increase in the deficit. We never gave up on the chance to move our fellow legislators and our state in a new direction. Some say this victory is short-lived because Governor Malloy has promised to veto the budget. However, those bipartisan votes were about more than the bill that was passed. It was a message to Governor Malloy and Democrat legislative leaders that our state cannot continue the tax-and-spend policies that have crippled the Connecticut\u2019s economy. Taxpayers won\u2019t stand for it. Connecticut has two weeks to pass a budget before the Governor\u2019s latest executive order decimates state funding for education and municipalities. The Governor and Democrats truly have no choice but to honestly and respectfully negotiate with Republicans on a new budget, a budget that represents real change for our state. Both the Republican budget passed last week, and any responsible budget negotiated in the coming weeks will include some painful cuts. I am not in favor of many of these cuts. However, the reality of Connecticut\u2019s dire financial situation requires many difficult decisions so that municipalities, education, and taxpayers can be protected. If we stay the present course, our state faces billion-dollar budget deficits far into the future. The only way we stop that is to change what and how we fund programs. We must fundamentally change state government. I believe our Republican budget should serve as a starting point for future budget negotiations. You can read more about it at\u00a0NewDirectionCT.comwhere you will find line-item spreadsheets that compare prior years\u2019 and proposed future year\u2019s spending. It also has a summary. Go to\u00a0cga.ct.gov\u00a0and look for Senate Bill 7501. This will have the actual legislation for the Governor\u2019s executive order (the underlying budget bill), the Democrats bill (Senate Amendment A, which includes $1.5 billion in taxes and fees), and the Republican bill (Senate Amendment B), as well as fiscal note for all three. State Senator Toni\u00a0Boucher\u00a0represents the 26th\u00a0Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.