Republicans, once again, lead the way out of another deficit, at least until July 1, 2016. State budget deficits have unfortunately become the norm.
At each critical juncture in the evolution of Connecticut’s finances, when answers to budget shortfall were not forthcoming, the minority party stepped forward with a way out of the fiscal crisis. This bi-partisan deficit mitigation plan saves municipal aid, hospitals and social services and is a positive step forward after years of denial, delay, and inaction which only served to make Connecticut’s financial problems so much worse.
The bipartisan deficit mitigation package achieves the following:
· Closes the state’s $220 million current year deficit as estimated by the governor’s office and state comptroller.
· Restores all $140 million in hospital funding, of which the state’s portion is $31.6 million, which was previously being withheld. This funding is partial reimbursement for hospitals’ Medicaid expenses and the care they provide to those most in need.
· Preserves core government services and protects funding for many vital social services.
· Eliminates proposed cuts to town aid.
· Replaces the governor’s rescissions proposed on March 16.
· Is made up of approximately 60% in budget cuts that can be rolled out into future years for long-term savings.
But this is not enough. Just as the legislature closes a $220 million short fall for June 2016, the can is being kicked down the road. The majority party still refuses to reform the most expensive and generous state employee fringe benefits and pensions. The state is facing a $900 million shortfall in July 2016, and a $4.5 billion shortfall in the following two years.
In the film, Awakenings, a doctor played by Robin Williams, succeeds in awakening his patient from a decades-long catatonic state, an achievement that unfortunately proves temporary. I fervently hope that Connecticut’s own awakening to financial reality is not as fleeting. The state’s taxpayers and struggling businesses cannot afford for state leaders to fall back into a pattern of inaction and atrophy.
Republicans will continue to reach out to all sides and propose ways to reduce our debt and make the structural changes that will be the only way out of a permanent fiscal crisis toward a permanent solution!
State Senator Toni Boucher