Letter: Time for some state budget clarity

To the Editor:
On March 29, I joined my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle in a bipartisan vote in supporting a mitigation package to deal with $220 million deficit for the current fiscal year. Unfortunately, many majority party legislators still do not recognize the need to change the way state government operates, in order to stop our perpetual budgetary shortfalls.

I, along with House and Senate Republicans, proposed an alternative budget in 2015 that was summarily dismissed. The budget passed in June, which I voted against, was loaded with tax hikes on individuals and state businesses and provided no structural changes to how state government is run. Now that we are in perpetual budget crisis, I have done my best to help find a way to restore proposed cuts that would have been harmful to the communities in my district.

Our efforts to mitigate this shortfall last week included the examination of each department for excess funding and to use these funds to balance the budget, saving important core services including:

  • Preservation of state aid to municipalities, which is critical at this point in the fiscal year.

  • Restoration of $31 million to our state hospitals that also triggers $100 million in federal funding.

  • Ensuring that services administered through the Department of Social Services (DSS) remain uninterrupted.

While I am pleased that both sides were finally able to work together, Tuesday was not such a great day, because we shouldn't have been put in this position in the first place. Years of reckless spending and over-taxation by the majority party has resulted in a weak economy leading to the poor tax revenues that created these deficits in the first place. On July 1 we are projected to have a state budget deficit of $900 million for fiscal year 2017 and close to $5 billion deficits for 2018-19.

People and businesses are leaving Connecticut in record numbers and paying their taxes elsewhere. We must address the structural changes required for a long term solution. We need policies that open the way for a stronger economy. Unless we do that, I will have a difficult time supporting any future mitigation. Just slapping a Band-Aid on the ongoing budget problem is not a real solution. Our people deserve better.

State Rep. Charles Ferraro