WILTON, Conn. – During the Dec. 8 special legislative session, state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) voted against legislation proposed by Democrats to close the state’s $357 million deficit, because it made no long-term structural changes in the way the state operates, sustaining a deficit of more than $4 billion in the next three years.
Lavielle, who represents parts of Wilton, Norwlk and Westport, instead voted in support of Republican legislation that would have required all state employee raises and benefits to be approved by the legislature, removed state pensions from collective bargaining negotiations, imposed an annual cap on state borrowing, and implemented Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap to ward off state budget deficits.
The current $357 million deficit came on the heels of the controversial 2015 state budget bill passed in June which that $1.5 billion in tax hikes.
“If we don’t make long-term structural changes to the way the state does business, Connecticut will continue to face massive deficits year after year, as the state’s overhead costs continue to rise,” said Lavielle. “Faced with increasing tax pressure, more people and businesses will leave the state, jobs for skilled professionals will become more scarce, and services for the state’s neediest residents will deteriorate. While we agreed ... on the business tax reductions and a number of spending changes in their legislation ... addressing long-term structural changes was the cornerstone of the Republican proposal.
"We cannot continue to budget in a piecemeal fashion and then expect the deficits in the out years just to disappear.”
Among the long-term structural measures proposed by House and Senate Republicans to restore the state’s financial health were:
- Implementing the constitutional spending cap
- Imposing an annual cap on state bonding
- Opening a competitive bid process for the Correction Department’s $92 million healthcare plan
- Making a series of labor reforms, including increasing state workers’ contributions to pension and healthcare plans, suspending longevity payments, and calculating final average salaries by using base pay only
- Requiring the legislature’s approval for all state employee contracts
- Enacting a constitutional lockbox for transportation funds
- Revising prevailing wage laws to help municipalities control costs
- Requiring regular reporting and monitoring of overtime.
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