Bipartisanship that saw the legislature nearly eliminate the state’s current-year budget deficit Wednesday left Rep. John Rigby hopeful that legislators can work together to streamline government. Rigby 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 his district, increasing taxes or draining the rainy day fund. Following subsequent approval by the State Senate, the bill now goes to Governor M. Jodi Rell for final approval. “I still have concerns over this plan and it doesn’t go far enough to reduce government costs, but supporting this last night set the stage for tackling our state’s future fiscal challenges,” Rigby said Thursday.Those challenges are considerable. Analysts have said Connecticut over the next few years faces multi-billion dollar deficits. Bipartisanship, Rigby said, is paramount to finding solutions.
“Republicans and Democrats built an agreement both parties could stomach, so I expect that we’ll be able to do it again,” he said. “That’s what we’re elected to do. I’m sure that’s what people in my district expect.”
Majority party Democrats included $168 million in savings that Republicans proposed in their deficit mitigation plan, and Rigby said he is particularly proud of the effort he and his caucus colleagues put forth in fighting to remove cuts in the original bill to special education funding and bridge repair projects.
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 medication costs, while saving the state money.
“We’ll have harder choices to make very soon. And more debate, for sure. But that’s only because everyone here wants to do what they think is best for the people of this state,” Rigby said. “For example, I think we need reduce the size of government. It’s bloated. And we need to do it without raising taxes on businesses and families.”
“In my opinion, last night’s vote was a launching pad toward accomplishing those goals,” he said.