State Representative DebraLee Hovey (R-112) and State Senator Dan Debicella (R-21) have joined with state Senate and House Republicans in proposing a state budget that would retain existing state funding for Monroe and Newtown without increasing taxes. The proposal would also cut government spending, merge state agencies, offer an early retirement incentive program for state employees, freeze state employee salaries and require state employee benefit concessions. The Republican proposal is an alternative to the Democratic budget proposed earlier this month that would increase income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, estate taxes, cigarette taxes, and eliminate the middle class property tax credit.
“In our recent budget forum in Monroe, Sen. Debicella and I promised that maintaining existing municipal and education funding would remain a priority for us,” said Representative Hovey. “This budget plan is based in reality and while a lot of people are having trouble accepting that reality, the fact that it does not require tax increases is crucial in this economy. I’ve had 200 constituents lose their jobs recently. They are painfully aware that they can’t afford tax increases—that ‘well’ is dry.”
The Republicans’ proposal would preserve existing state funding for Monroe, including Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds. “Monroe received a 16% increase in ECS funding in 2007-2009, and it is critical that we preserve those gains,” said Senator Debicella.
“We should not be raising taxes in a recession,” said Senator Debicella, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. “Instead, we need to cut the bloat of bureaucracy. Building on the Governor’s budget, we have proposed reinventing state government through shifting social services to community providers, rolling back spending on most state agencies to 2007 levels, and asking for employee concessions.”
Senator Debicella added that the Democrats budget would result in a $500-750 tax increase for every family in Monroe. “Our budget clearly offers a better choice for middle class families hit hard by the current economy.”
Highlights of the Republican budget alternative include:
• Rolling back spending for all non-essential programs to 2007 levels ($500 million in savings)
• Shifting 50% of social services to private providers by 2011 ($150 million in savings)
• Early retirement for state employees ($300 million savings)
• State worker concessions for salary, health care and pension benefits ($650 million in savings)
• Folding 16 agencies into three and implementing a hiring freeze to reduce overhead costs
• Overhauling the higher education bureaucracy that duplicates services and drives up tuition for families struggling to pay for college
• Engaging private companies that can perform duties such as state park maintenance