Winners, Losers In Last-Minute State Budget Deal
Some important bills got a nod from legislators while others were killed for now.
By Rich Scinto, The Patch Staff, May 10, 2018
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After Legislative Session, Democrats Praise Accomplishments, GOP Proud Of Blocking Tolls, by Daniela Altimari, The Hartford Courant, May 10, 2018
Can Lawmakers Resist Urge to Spend $1.3 Billion Tax Windfall?, The CT Business & Industry Association (CBIA), May 3, 2018
Parties sharply divided over higher ed, labor costs, transportation, by Keith M. Phaneuf and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, The CT Mirror, April 23, 2018
Less talk, more action; fewer candidates, too
by Paul Stern, The CT Mirror, April 22, 2018
Connecticut Lawmakers at Odds Over New State Budget, by Susan Haigh, Associated Press, April 20, 2018
Dems Muscle Through Their Spending Plan, by Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, April 20, 2018
Hospital tax could complicate CT deficit, but income tax receipts keep rising, by Keith M. Phaneuf, The CT Mirror, April 20, 2018
Wall Street Agency Lowers Connecticut’s Bond Rating, by Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, April 13, 2018
Gov. Malloy Defends Long-Term Hartford Bailout, by Christopher Keating, The Hartford Courant, April 13, 2013
Morning Consult: Gov. Malloy Is Least Popular Governor In Country, by Sandra Gomez-Aceves, The Hartford Courant, April 12, 2018
Aresimowicz asks GOP to drop partisan budget plans, by Keith M. Phaneuf, The CT Mirror, April 11, 2018
Committee Fails to Act on Labor Department's Employer Tax, The CT Business & Industry Association (CBIA), April 6, 2018
Highway Tolls Bill Moves to State House, The CT Business & Industry Association (CBIA), April 6, 2018
Legislative Committee Passes Highway Tolls Bill 26-25, Sending Proposal To House, by Christopher Keating, The Hartford Courant, April 5, 2018
Finance Committee Moves To Delay Bond Covenant,by Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, April 5, 2018
Budget panel won’t pass spending plan — again, by Keith M. Phaneuf, The CT Mirror, April 4, 2018
HARTFORD, CT — The General Assembly passed a $20 billion bipartisan budget with an hour to go in the session Wednesday night. The budget contains no new tax increases. It was a last-minute flurry to get bills passed before the clock struck midnight in Hartford.
Still, the state is looking at about a $4.4 billion budget deficit in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. It'll be up to the next governor and legislature to figure that out.
Medicare Savings Program to help senior citizens and the disabled pay for medical care was restored. Funding was also restored to help low income parents get health insurance.
Restoration of municipal aid was also a big hit among many legislators who wanted more money for their local towns. There will be $70.5 million more aid than in fiscal year 2018 and $28.4 million more than appropriated in fiscal year 2019, according to a budget summary released by the legislature.
The legislature also voted to keep the $200 property tax credit that can be used by the elderly and families with dependents. Gov. Dannel Malloy suggested eliminating the credit earlier in the year.
The budget also fully funds the Special Transportation Fund.
Wednesday marked the second consecutive year that legislators passed a bipartisan budget. Parties had to work together last year a number of Democrats voted in favor of the Republican budget in the House and Senate. Malloy vetoed the budget and legislators went back to the negotiating table to craft a bipartisan deal.
Malloy spoke to the legislature for the final time shortly after midnight.
"I wish you well. And to the rest of you… Well, you better be careful or else I just might endorse you in your elections this fall," he said.
He also joked that the repeal of the minimum bottle price must be somewhere in the budget. The move would help lower the cost of alcohol for Connecticut consumers and has been on Malloy's wish list for several years.
Malloy also said the executive branch is 13 percent smaller than when he came into office and is at its lowest staffing level since 1975. The Rainy Day Fund is set to be more than $1 billion next year.
"We have accomplished a great deal together in these past eight years," he said. "I'm proud to have fought these battles alongside all of you. And I'm proud to have served as your 88th Governor."
Bills weren't the only thing that passed in the final days of the session. Rep. Joe Gresko passed a kidney stone and got right back to work.
Circumventing The SALT (State And Local Taxes) Deduction Limit
Legislators unanimously approved a bill proposed by Malloy that would circumvent the new federal Republican tax law that vastly reduces the ability of tax filers to claim state and local taxes on federal returns. About 40 percent of Connecticut residents claim the deduction, which averages nearly $19,000.
The federal change only allows filers to claim a combined $10,000 in state income tax and local property tax deductions.
The bill once signed by Malloy will allow towns to create charitable organizations to support town services. Tax filers would donate to the organizations and in return would get a property tax credit.
Since charitable donations don't count toward the limit the SALT deduction would effectively be restored for local property taxes. It would also open up filers to deduct up to $10,000 in state income tax.
Opponents of the federal law contend that it unfairly targets high tax states like Connecticut and California.
The legislature punted on legalizing recreational marijuana. The bill was approved at the committee level, but never made it to the floor for a full vote.
Massachusetts will begin regulated sales July 1. Proponents of legalization have argued that Connecticut will lose out on tens of millions in revenue by not legalizing and taxing.
Tolls too were never called for a full vote. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz originally promised a vote, but decided not to after it was realized there wouldn't be enough votes to pass it.
The issue became contentious as Republicans strongly opposed tolling.
Anyone hoping to hit the slots in the Park City will have to keep on dreaming for now. The legislature didn't take a full vote on a proposal that would have eventually allowed gambling in Bridgeport.
Earlier this year MGM proposed a private $675 million casino project that would bring an estimated 7,000 jobs to the area. The casino would give the state $50 million check for a licensing fee. It was also estimated to bring in $8 million in annual payments to the City of Bridgeport and $4.5 million to the surrounding area, according to MGM.
Ban on Bump Stocks
The legislature has been tackling several other bills besides the budget. The House voted 114-35 and the Senate 26-10 to ban bump stocks and other enhancements that increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic weapons. Malloy proposed the law in January.
"I have yet to hear one legitimate reason why anyone needs to own a device that can fire 90 bullets every 10 seconds," Malloy said.
Legislation will codify practices to improve processing of sexual assault evidence kits in the state. Malloy hailed its passage and said he plans to sign the legislation in the coming days.
The House passed an energy bill 100-45 early Wednesday that will create successor programs for expiring programs such as the solar home renewable credit, zero-emission renewable energy credits and low-emission renewable energy credits. It also changes net metering so the state will pay a more affordable per kilowatt-hour rate. The bill passed the Senate earlier in the week.
An environmental bill that passed the Senate would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2001 levels to 2030. The House of Representatives hasn't voted on the bill yet.
Legislators also approved a $12 surcharge on homeowner insurance policies in Connecticut to help pay to fix crumbling foundations in the eastern part of the state.
A bill that would also mandate teaching students about the history of genocide also passed.