To the editor,
The 2017 legislative session [ended] at midnight on June 7 without a budget agreement to close the projected $5.1 billion deficit for the next two years. Democrat Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz told reporters already that we would not have a budget to vote on by the June 7 deadline. This is unacceptable.
During the course of this session, Republicans have consistently proposed alternative no-tax-increase budgets, which focused on making long-term structural changes, reducing the size of the state government and reining in out-of-control state spending.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ current budget proposal increases taxes and fees by $450 million; $240 million comes from legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and the rest from unnamed increases to application and licensing fees. In addition, House Democrats are looking to pass legislation to implement tolls throughout the state and add another casino.
This is not the answer to solving our state’s dire fiscal problems. Our state has a serious spending problem, and for years, government spending has gone unchecked. We need to make serious structural changes by establishing an actual spending cap with tight restrictions and reducing state bonding to 2013 levels.
I believe we can find common ground with members from the other side of aisle, which we have done on numerous bills this session. We have unanimously supported bills to reduce fees and provide tax relief for veterans and to tackle the opioid epidemic. Yet, Democrats are unable to agree that a no-tax-increase budget without legalizing marijuana and implementing tolls is the right thing to do for Connecticut residents and businesses who are deciding to leave the state and close up shop daily?
Restoring a balanced budget, long-term predictability and stability to Connecticut will require Democrats to accept Republican ideas, and we could have done this before the June 7 deadline.
The writer is the state representative for the 89th House District, which represents Prospect, Bethany and Cheshire.