Governor Malloy’s Budget Proposal

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here’s the basic principles behind Malloy’s budget proposal, straight from his mouth.

  1. We can’t spend new money.
  2. We borrow not one penny for operating expenses. (Too much borrowing over the years for ongoing expenses is one of the reasons we’re in the bad shape we’re in.)
  3. This budget fully funds our pension obligations.

If you didn’t get to watch his address, fear not – the full text is posted right online.

Here are some of the answers we’ve been looking for:

Jobs:

Malloy’s hoping to enact a 30 percent earned income tax credit, reminiscent of the federal program. Lower income families of four would be privy to an additional $1,700 a year – IF the taxpayer is working.

His “First Five” initiatives will offer a number of nice perks to the first five companies to bring more than 200 new jobs to the state, including but not limited to the Reinvestment Tax Credit, the Manufacturing Assistance Act, and the Job Creation Tax Credit.

Restructuring Government:

Malloy reduced the number of budgeted state agencies by 30 percent, from 82 to 58, resulting in one of my favorite quips of the address:

“We have more than 10 agencies whose job it is to make sure other agencies do their jobs. Isn’t that my job? Isn’t that your job in the Assembly?”

The governor’s staff was reduced by 15 percent, and he eliminated new longevity payments for people he appointed to his administration.

It’s been widely reported since Malloy first released his tax plan that he was looking for $2 billion of “real savings and concessions” from state employees over the next two years. The question was, though: How?

Although there are skeptics to this plan, Malloy seems to be ready to play hardball, saying they make concessions to get to that $2 billion number, or they face lay-offs.

Some of his ideas broadcasted in the address:

  • Move state employees to a health benefits package similar to the one for federal employees.
  • Accept a wage freeze.
  • Three furlough days a year.
  • Adjust the retirement age.
  • Freeze longevity payments.
  • “Modestly” increase medical co‐pays for unnecessary emergency room visits.

Taxes:

Malloy covered the majority of his tax proposals earlier in the week.

Education:

Malloy will be forming a committee to reconsider and overhaul the ECS formula used to fund local schools.

He’d also like to work toward making pre-kindergarten education a reality for every child in Connecticut (which he did for the city of Stamford as its mayor).

In addition to the above ideas and reforming teachers’ tenure programs, he’s got a number of other big ideas (and, yes, costs): “more than two million dollars to start to build the student data and teacher accountability systems we committed to last year,” “$60 million for magnet schools to provide for more than 8,000 additional seats, $6.5 million for 747 additional charter school seats, 7.2 million dollars for more than 1,300 new seats in the OPEN Choice program, and 50,000 dollars to fund a Regional Educational Service Center to study ways communities can regionalize transportation services to save local dollars.”

Towns and Cities:

The proposed budget does not cut overall funding for the towns, as Malloy recognizes we can’t “balance the state’s budget on the backs of our local taxpayers.” Towns and cities will get new revenue as well, thanks to the “tenth‐of‐a‐percent sales tax on retail sales that will be returned to the town where it is collected,” expected to raise $24 million.

Transportation:

Malloy has committed the funds necessary for 38 new rail cars for MetroNorth and ShorelineEast and plans to fully fund other rail lines, without increasing bus and rail fare. All of the taxes collected on gasoline and diesel used for transportation will go toward the state’s transportation needs, with “70 percent of our gross receipts tax going to support our roads and bridges.”

Public Safety:

Malloy is looking at some fairly substantial reforms to ease overcrowding in prisons and save money, including raising the maximum age of juvenile offenders and instituting “alternative” rehab situations for nonviolent and petty offenders. He’s also put $8 million on the bond agenda to make the Criminal Justice Information System a reality; the idea of this system was brought about following the Cheshire home invasion case by two offenders who “slipped through the cracks” of the justice system.

Healthcare:

Malloy’s healthcare proposals include converting the state’s Medicaid programs to a “self-insured” model, adding smoking cessation to covered services, and keeping “optional services, like dentistry or eyeglasses” covered.

Optimism?

In an address including a lot of “tough love,” Malloy was careful to end on an optimistic note, encouraging Connecticut to help him get back on the right track.

“Yes, we are facing enormous challenges, but we also have an historic opportunity.

An opportunity to renew people’s faith that government, at its best, can still do great things.

We can create a more competitive business climate that will result in job growth and an economic revival.

We can provide a better education for every child in this state.

We can create a 21st century transportation system.

We can and will protect our citizens.

We can provide peace of mind by providing better access to quality, affordable health care.

We can do all of these things, and more, if we have the courage to make the hard decisions we need to make today, and to seize the many opportunities that will shape our future.”

Read Malloy’s full address.

What do you think, Connecticut, about Malloy’s budget proposal?

Sound off in the comments below… what has you excited? Frightened?

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