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Westport Republican Legislators Back GOP Proposal To Close State Budget Gap

Sen. Tony Hwang (R-134), backing his party's proposed policy changes said: “Connecticut is in trouble, and we need to chart a new policy course.” Photo Credit: File
State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26), says the GOP plan would allow the state to close the deficit without cutting hospitals and Medicaid. Photo Credit: Contributed
Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) said the state's finanical structure is allowing its infrastructure and "safety net" to deteriorate. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Republican Westport legislators are hailing GOP proposals to close Connecticut’s budget deficit and make structural changes to help the state avoid future shortfalls.

These proposals were shared with Democrat leaders and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in bipartisan budget negotiations on Thursday, Nov. 12, and with the public at a press conference the following day in Hartford.

Sens. Tony Hwang (R-134) and Toni Boucher (R-26), and Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) said the proposals will put Connecticut back on a "sustainable path."

Proposals include modifications of more than $370 million in 2016, enough, the legislators say, to close the deficit while also restoring cuts made to social services under the governor’s September rescissions.

None of the immediate proposed solutions require labor concessions, the legislators said.

The proposals also include tax changes -- including the elimination of “unitary combined reporting” -- to improve the state’s business environment, they said.

Fairfield-based General Electric, citing the state’s business environment, said in June that it is looking to move out of Connecticut, according to the Stamford Advocate . GE was responding, the Advocate reported, to the state's passage of revenue measures that would include the so-called “unitary combined reporting.”

“Unitary combined reporting” would allow the state to collect taxes on corporate income that companies have avoided reporting by attributing it to other jurisdictions, the Advocate reported.

The long-term Republican budget proposals include lowering state debt by limiting the amount it can borrow, identifying and addressing governmental inefficiencies, protecting transportation funding, better managing the pension system, and making modest labor modifications.

“Connecticut is in trouble, and we need to chart a new policy course,” Hwang said. “Our proposals protect our most vulnerable residents – seniors, children and the disabled – from cuts to vital services.”

Hwang said the GOP plan also protects hospitals from “draconian cuts.”

“Let’s get to work and fix this budget mess,” he added.

According to Boucher, the proposed long-term changes include healthcare premium sharing, defined contribution plans, an increase in pension contributions, and reduction in state workforce, overtime reform, and a reduction in raises for state employees.

It would, she said, enable the state to address the deficit “without cutting hospitals, Medicaid, those with developmental disabilities, or from substance abuse treatment programs.”

“It's time to address the structural issues with Connecticut's finances that are causing our infrastructure and our safety net to deteriorate, discouraging businesses from operating here, and escalating the tax pressure on residents,” Lavielle said.

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