House and Senate Republicans today proposed an alternative balanced budget that eliminates massive Democratic taxes, preserves vital programs and services at 2007 levels, and greatly reduces government costs through consolidations, agency mergers, retirements and salary and benefit concessions. The proposal requires no reduction to municipal aid – including no reduction in education funding to any town – and it restores the $500 property tax credit Democrats eliminated.
“This alternative Republican budget represents what the people of my district have been calling for: a leaner, more streamlined government that works for state residents and is affordable,” said state Rep. John Piscopo (R-Thomaston). “With the economy already stagnant, simply raising taxes is the worst possible thing the Legislature can do.”
Republicans balanced their budget by rolling back spending levels, combining state agencies, offering state workers early retirement and bringing state employee benefits more in line with the private sector. For example, we would raise the co-pays on prescription drugs from $3 to $10 on generics, $6 to $20 on name brands, up to $25 for some specific drugs.
Republicans are committed to working with Democrats and Gov. Rell to produce a two-year budget Connecticut can afford and not drive more businesses out of state or raise taxes. Gov. Rell’s February budget had no tax increases, but state revenues have continued to deteriorate. The Democrats earlier this month proposed the largest tax hike in Connecticut history – $3.3 billion – at a time when Connecticut residents can least afford it.
The highlights of the Republican alternative are:
• Early retirement to save more than $285 million;
• State worker concessions for salary, health care and pension benefits that save $662 million;
• Folding 23 agencies into six and implementing a hiring freeze to reduce overhead costs. Two more agencies would be merged into the General Fund;
• Overhauling the higher education bureaucracy that duplicates services and drives up tuition for families struggling to pay for college;
• Preserving school and municipal aid;
• Using the Rainy Day Fund for what it was intended – fiscal distress;
• Imposing $900 million in actual cuts;
• Restoring $25 million in municipal aid cut by Democrats and the $500 property tax credit for families earning as little as $46,000;
• Engaging private companies that can perform duties such as state park maintenance.