HARTFORD—On the last day Connecticut residents had to mail in their tax bills, Rep. John Rigby and his House Republican colleagues today unveiled their 2011 budget erasing the $736 million deficit for 2011 without raising taxes by consolidating agencies and shrinking the public workforce. The balanced plan preserves municipal and school aid, and sets aside $74.5 million to stimulate job growth. Companies that hire the unemployed can earn $17.5 million in tax credits, and the plan establishes a $25 million small business revolving loan fund, and eliminates the Business Entity Tax.
“We can’t continue to kick the can down the road—we have to fill the budget hole in three weeks without increasing taxes and without devastating social service programs,” Rigby said. “That means streamlining government, ending ineffective programs we just can’t afford to fund. Residents have already made these tough decisions, and I’m sure they expect the people they chose to represent them to do the same.”
The proposal offers a flexible menu of choices to create savings from concessions that have all been validated by the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
The hallmarks of the savings:
• $58 million in line item cuts to 2009 levels;
• $64 million in early retirement for state workers;
• $10 million in state agency consolidations;
• $6.4 million to shed state office leases;
• $20 million in privatization of state functions;
• $150 million in state worker concessions, including wage freezes, furlough days and health care;
• $3.8 million in legislative pay cuts, elimination of franked mail and travel.
The budget also makes significant investments in job creation and retirement security:
• $200 million will be paid into the state employee pensions;
• The Business Entity Tax is eliminated to save companies $32 million;
• A Small Business Revolving Loan Fund of $25 million is created;
• Tax credits of up to $17.5 million will be available to companies that hire off unemployment rolls.
Rigby said that the legislature took the first step toward filling the state’s budget hole Tuesday when the House voted to erase the current state budget deficit of $350 million for 2010. The legislature cannot adjourn on May 5 without finishing the job and addressing the $700 million that looms July 1.
Republicans outlined a variety of small and large potential savings in the state work force. Rigby noted that if all state workers agree to freeze wages for one year it would save $183 million. One furlough days results in a $9 million savings, he noted.
He called upon Democrats to immediately come together as we did on April 13 and work toward a reasonable solution.