HARTFORD—Rep. Christie Carpino outlined a legislative agenda today that includes massive government reorganization and downsizing, freezing state employee salaries and other across-the-board spending cuts to save taxpayers billions over two years. Carpino, who represents Cromwell, Middletown and Portland, joined her House Republican colleagues at a news conference today at the legislative office building, where members of the 51-member caucus described the plan crafted and presented with Senate Republicans.
Connecticut faces a budget deficit of more than $3 billion, and House Republicans such as Carpino have called for immediate action to address the crippling situation.
“During the last two years residents saw a majority of the state’s legislators increase taxes and fees and borrow money to cover budget shortfalls but they haven’t seen much, if anything, in spending cuts,” Carpino said. “I want members of this legislature, from both sides of the aisle, to sit down and talk about significant, responsible spending reductions. The time is now.”
Among the Republican suggestions for tackling the crisis are: rolling back spending to previous levels to save as much as $1.6 billion; a 5 percent reduction in the state’s workforce for $250 million in cuts; and state employee givebacks worth nearly $1.75 billion. Republicans said that their proposals preserve municipal aid over the next two years but would still save the state $1 billion. No significant spending cuts have been made over the last two budget cycles, despite the massive drop off in revenue, which has led to the projected $3.5 billion deficit.
The comprehensive set of proposals include immediate savings for taxpayers, such as the elimination of longevity bonuses for state employees to save $30 million annually. The two-year pay freeze for state workers would save $337 million, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Republicans said the long-term restructuring of pension benefits for state employees would require them to contribute more to their retirement packages and would raise the retirement age.
Other features of the Republican plan:
• Merging 43 agencies into 11, including combining all Legislative Management agencies into one entity;
• Reducing the number of managers using private industry standards to determine the proper ratio to rank and file workers;
• Limiting bonding to 10 percent of state budget. Connecticut borrowed $1.6 billion to pay for operating expenses in the last two years;
• Eliminate the 10 percent corporate surcharge and the business entity tax;
• Provide tax credits to companies that hire off unemployment rolls.
Watch the House Republican news conference here: