Bipartisanship that saw the legislature nearly eliminate the state’s current-year budget deficit Wednesday left Rep. Penny Bacchiochi hopeful that legislators can work together to streamline government. Bacchiochi is pleased that House members approved legislation to eliminate $1.2 billion of the state’s $1.35 billion deficit without cutting state aid to communities in her district, increasing taxes or draining the rainy day fund. Following subsequent approval by the State Senate, it now goes to Governor M. Jodi Rell for final approval. “I have a few concerns with this plan and it doesn’t go far enough to reduce government costs, but supporting this proposal today was important to meet future challenges,” Bacchiochi said Thursday.Those challenges are considerable. Analysts have said Connecticut over the next few years faces multi-billion dollar deficits. Bipartisanship, Bacchiochi said, should be the foundation to finding solutions.
“Democrats and Republicans crafted an agreement generally palatable to both parties, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it again,” she said. “That’s what we’re paid to do. I know that’s what my constituents expect.”
Majority party Democrats included $168 million in savings that Republicans proposed in their deficit mitigation plan, and Bacchiochi said she is particularly proud of the effort she and her caucus colleagues put forth in fighting to remove cuts in the original bill to special education funding and local bridge repair.
Good news for seniors is included in the plan in the form of a prescription drug coverage change expected to save 30,000 seniors an average of $1,200 a year in prescription medication costs, while saving the state money.
“We’ll have tougher choices to make in the near future. And more debate, for sure. But that’s only because everyone here wants to do what they think is best for Connecticut,” Bacchiochi said. “For example, I think we need to trim government. It’s bloated. And we need to do it without increasing taxes.”
“In my opinion, last night’s vote was a launching pad toward accomplishing those goals,” she said.