HARTFORD — Rep. John Rigby today joined Republican lawmakers in rejecting plans to cut town and city aid and instead proposed closing the projected budget deficit by cutting state spending by $466 million. Rigby and his House and Senate Republican colleagues called for immediate action from super-majority Democrats whose budget was unbalanced as soon they passed it in September.
The proposal unveiled by Republicans at a Capitol news conference reduces the sales tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent as originally planned to save consumers $129 million. The plan achieves the savings to cover the deficit and provide sales tax relief by reducing spending across state government by 6.5 percent.
Rigby embraced the level of spending cuts put forth last month by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, but rejected a proposed $84 million cut in aid to cities and towns. Rell has called the legislature into special session Dec. 15 to address the budget crisis, but Democrats have not indicated whether they will comply.
“It’s the legislature’s job to deal with the budget crisis,” said Rigby, a Colebrook resident who represents seven Northwest Corner communities. “Cutting aid to municipalities like North Canaan and Winsted would drop the problem into the laps of mayors and first selectmen, who would be forced to increase local taxes to cover this proposed gap in state funding. A tax increase is the last thing my constituents need right now.”
The $466 million in spending cuts include taking $28 million from the Citizens’ Election Fund and cutting most accounts in the Democratic budget approved Sept. 1 by 6.5 percent. House and Senate Republicans said taxpayers should not be forced to pay for political campaigns while Connecticut families are cutting their own budgets and more than 71,000 workers have lost their jobs. They pointed out that the state’s public financing system has been ruled unconstitutional in court and must be changed.
Rigby pointed out that as the state’s deficit grew in 2008 and 2009 super-majority Democrats repeatedly refused to cut spending in any significant way and created the gridlock over the state budget that was not passed until Labor Day, three months after the start of the fiscal year.
States that passed their budgets on time found themselves in much better fiscal strength.