Nearly two-dozen state agencies would be eliminated or absorbed into others and the budget would relieve towns and cities of millions in unfunded mandates.
Frey praised Gov. Rell for keeping her promise not to raise taxes and reduce the cost of government to bridge the projected multi-billion budget deficit over the next two years.
“We are prepared to move forward on Gov. Rell’s budget because we all recognize the need to reduce spending to deal with the economic crisis we’re in. We have a lot of work ahead, but this budget shows we can make tough choices and still deliver the services that our taxpayers and residents have come to expect and deserve,” Frey said.
He added, “Now is not the time to raise taxes, when Ridgefield families are struggling to keep their jobs and pay their bills.” He pointed to the governor’s proposal to not cut town aid and to suspend costly binding arbitration for the next two years to saved towns and cities money on municipal contracts.
Other mandate relief, such as delaying costly in-school suspension rules and treating young offenders separately as juveniles, have been proposed by House Republicans. At least 400 current position that are unfilled would be eliminated under the plan.
Frey acknowledged that the Governor’s proposals will require re-ordering priorities and making tough choices that businesses and families have already confronted. Numerous governmental consolidations have been put forth that will reduce the state bureaucracy including:
- Combining certain functions of higher education and the state education department;
- Re-ordering the functions of numerous departments within Legislative Management that is responsible for running the state Capitol;
- Eliminating 400 vacant state positions and cutting at least another 400 through consolidations;
- Anticipating $550 million in cost-saving measures from public sector employee unions. Frey said that could mean possibly offering early retirement to those who qualify to reduce state payroll;
“We all have to work toward the goal of avoiding any new taxes. Connecticut cannot afford it and now we have the opportunity to recast state government to work more efficiently,” Frey concluded.