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Shaban Will Battle Dems Over Budget

Connecticut Republicans plan to hack away at the state budget deficit in the next legislative session. On Monday, Rep. John Shaban 's office announced his agenda, which focuses on government reorganization and massive downsizing.

Shaban – whose 135th District includes Easton, Weston and Redding – said the GOP's budget strategy involves freezing state salaries, which Shaban hopes will save taxpayers billions. "I will work with my colleagues to promote reductions in the size and spending rate of our government," Shaban said in a press release, adding that he wants to "reduce the tax burden on families and businesses."

Republicans raged against various "backdoor" taxes, such as the new utility charges that go into effect in 2013 in Easton. The new charges are supposed to help the state fill the $1 billion hole in the current budget.

The GOP offered other suggestions, such as rolling back spending enough to save more than $1.6 billion, Shaban said. Republicans also suggested a 5 percent reduction in the state's workforce for a $250 million saving, and implementing state employee givebacks worth nearly $1.75 billion.

Republicans say these proposals would preserve municipal aid over the next two years but still save $1 billion. "No significant spending cuts have been made over the last two budget cycles," Shaban noted, "despite the massive dropoff in revenue – this in turn has led to the projected $3.5 billion structural deficit."

Gov. Dan Malloy is expected to propose tax increases to slash the deficit. Malloy's plan should hit the Senate on Feb. 16, just six days before special elections in nine districts.

Republicans look to block any increase in spending. "We can no longer afford the size of government we have," said House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk. "Our pension and health care benefits are crushing Connecticut's ability to provide all the services it does. We have to re-order state government now."

What is the best way for Connecticut to get out of its budget crises? More taxes? Cuts in services? Business incentives? A combination? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below!

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