GOP Alternative Spends $343 Million Less

The state budget came back into focus this week at the Capitol with widely differing visions of how Connecticut taxpayer dollars should be spent.

The Appropriations Committee passed a revised state budget that slightly comes under the governor’s original $20.7 billion proposal but dramatically slashes funding for his important education reforms.

Republican lawmakers posed a budget alternative that reduces overall state spending by about $343 million, supports key education reform proposals, aims to curb Medicaid fraud and provides Connecticut residents with tax relief.

Now, with just over a month left in the 2012 session, the challenge is to arrive at a revised state budget that will accomplish what Connecticut needs to do to move forward--in a fiscally responsible way.

Instead of the business-as-usual approach to budget negotiations, Connecticut employers would like to lawmakers reprise their successful, bipartisan spirit of last October’s Jobs Session.

That’s when legislators took the state down a different and more positive path by exploring many different ideas and solutions to creating more jobs in the state.

For the budget talks this year, the legislature should seriously consider the best ideas from both sides of the aisle that would allow the state to fund its priorities but at less overall costs.

What’s more, Connecticut voters strongly back  the education reforms that the Appropriations Committee budget unfortunately weakened. It’s good that committee’s budget came under the original bottom line, but a way must be found to fully fund the reforms.

And lawmakers can’t ignore the $90 million in savings from state employees’ suggestions, and the $50 million in technology-based savings, being counted on to make the budget balance. If those ideas are in the works, policymakers should make them public.

Similar to the education reforms contained in SB 24, the budget (HB 5014) is, and should be, a work in progress.

CBIA encourages state lawmakers to work with the administration to craft a budget that will fund priorities and not increase the overall level of state spending.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com.