RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — State Reps. John Frey and Michael Ferguson of Ridgefield are joining the House Republican caucus in calling for a May 5 deadline for the legislature to complete Connecticut’s two-year state budget.
This is in the interest of giving municipalities notice of their state aid to help the local budget process.
On Wednesday, the State Senate tabled a proposal to ask all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut to delay their local budget deadlines – typically arrived at in April or May – to accommodate uncertainties in the state budget as a result of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed cuts to municipal aid.
“The ambiguity and lack of transparency that surround Connecticut’s budget process bears a significant degree of responsibility for our state’s failing economy and open hostility to taxpayers and businesses,” said Frey. “We cannot have a repeat of the past few years where municipalities are blindsided by drastic cuts to their municipal aid in the middle of their budget years.
"That’s why our caucus will take the next eight weeks to craft an alternative budget and prepare to engage in discussions with the governor and majority party by May 5 so cities and towns know what to expect. If the governor wants to balance the budget on the backs of towns and property taxpayers, he has to at least give them enough time to adjust their local budgets accordingly.”
“It’s truly remarkable how much uncertainty the governor demands towns like Ridgefield accept in their annual budgeting,” said Ferguson. “After recovering from cuts to municipal aid in the last budget, the governor then announced this year that he is planning on sending an enormous bill for a third of the costs of teachers’ pensions to municipalities. Now, cities and towns are expected to swallow even more cuts. I look forward to working with House Republicans on crafting a budget that offers taxpayers some relief and having it finished by May 5. Even though it will be difficult to stop these cuts without a majority, we can at least have the numbers set for towns to work with.”
Frey and Ferguson were each among the legislators who co-introduced SB 154, a bill requiring the General Assembly to appropriate aid to municipalities no later than March 1 every year. Though Frey does not expect this measure to pass, he is hopeful that with increased ranks in the House and Senate GOP caucuses, that they will be able to press the majority Democrats to provide municipal aid figures to cities and towns earlier than in previous years.
“We have to stop tormenting local officials with these threats to slash their funding. It forces them to warn property owners in town to ‘prepare for the worst’ with tax increases and cuts to core services, and then cryptically add ‘but we really have no idea for sure,’ because they really don’t. It makes good local officials look inept while also terrifying the town’s residents. Let’s take at least this degree of uncertainty out of the budget process and set municipal aid by May 5.” said. Frey.