Local Elected Officials: ‘We Need A Budget - Now!’
WALLINGFORD, CT - Hours before the House was to vote Tuesday on overriding Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s veto, mayors, first selectman and other elected officials from scores of municipalities implored the legislature and governor to get a budget done.
Local officials got together in Wallingford Tuesday, at an event organized by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
It came two days after a day after Malloy’s revised executive order went into effect on Oct. 1.
The order means that 85 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns will not receive the first quarter of the Education Cost Sharing grant and 54 will receive reduced payments. The executive order goes away if the General Assembly is able to send the governor a budget he will sign.
A Republican-led budget that was passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators was vetoed by Malloy last week.
Asked when town and city leaders a budget done, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, who is also Vice President of CCM, was succinct in his answer.
O’Leary added: “People need to get back into a room as soon as possible. We need it done now. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Right after Tuesday’s CCM gathering in Wallingford many headed to Hartford where the House was expected to discuss - and possibly vote on overriding the governor’s veto.
Republicans would need 29 Democratic legislators in the House and six in the Senate to override the veto.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Monday that he has the votes to sustain Malloy’s veto and to end the “political silliness.”
Moving forward, CCM said there are three principles that must be met in any state budget agreement: there must be structural mandate reform across the board; there can be no further state responsibilities transferred from the state to town and cities on already overburdened property tax; and, there must be a vibrant path forward for urban growth and development.
On the local property tax issue, Susan Bransfield, president of CCM and the first selectwoman of Portland, said any budget that is passed cannot increase the tax burden on local property taxes.
“Property taxes on the local level are very hurtful on the senior population and low income residents,” Bransfield.
Bransfield said while it is not directly a property tax issue, the final budget document should not include shifting the cost of the teacher’s retirement system onto towns and cities.
That proposal has been proposed by Malloy.
“That cannot happen. That would overly burden the local property taxes. That cannot happen,” Bransfield said.
On mandate reform, O’Leary said to go months without a state budget “and not have long and short-term reforms is ridiculous.”
“People are sick and tired of what’s happening. There has to be change and that change has to start today,” O’Leary added.
O’Leary said particularly in the areas of binding arbitration and unfunded mandates, the final budget must include language and legislation that addresses those two key issues.
CCM Executive Director Joseph DeLong said it is imperative that whatever final budget document is finally agreed to that it “works for all cities and all towns.”
DeLong said Senate and House legislators need to “come up with a better way that doesn’t just represent the needs of their district. It has to work for all of us.”