HARTFORD — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says his budget plan will include changes to the state sales tax, health benefits for state workers and retirement benefits for teachers.
Lamont presents his two-year budget plan on Wednesday to the state legislature.
The Democrat on Tuesday outlined what he says will be structural reforms to help close a $3.7 billion budget deficit projected over the next two years.
The plan will include broadening the sales tax to include streaming and other digital services and eliminating tax exemptions for things such as horse boarding, boat storage or the rental of a campsite.
His plan also would require towns or local board of educations to assume responsibility for 25 percent of teacher pensions. The governor says he also will negotiate better health care prices for state workers.
Leaders of the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) issued this response to Gov. Lamont's proposal:
“State budgets now and into the future include nearly $2 billion a year in savings provided by state employee union members through three savings agreements negotiated over the past decade. By agreeing to hard wage freezes, reduced pension and healthcare benefits, higher employee contributions and higher premium share costs, our members have done far more than their fair share to improve Connecticut’s fiscal health.
“Our latest agreement in 2017 will save taxpayers $25 billion over the next 20 years. That's an average of $17,500 per state employees to help close chronic budget deficits that imperil vital public services.
“Meanwhile, our union members, like all working and middle-class families, pay an effective local tax rate nearly double what Connecticut’s richest few get away with paying.
“To be clear; we will not be part of asking for still more sacrifices from state employees, who have already given so much for the people they serve.”
"We will, however, continue working with the Lamont Administration and the General Assembly on “win-win” solutions for achieving efficiency and that will benefit everyone. Additionally, we will continue fighting for a fair budget that empowers all to thrive together here in Connecticut.”
The Connecticut Hospital Association released a statement regarding the proposed budget:
We are strongly opposed to the proposed budget. The current Administration is not honoring the bipartisan agreement for this year or next year, and the budget makes additional cuts to hospitals.
Hospitals and health systems are key to the state’s economic recovery and employ more than 100,000 people in Connecticut.
We continue to be willing partners to find a sustainable solution, but this is not it.
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) released the following statements following Governor Lamont's budget address:
“Governor Lamont put forth a responsible budget that addresses our deficit and invests in our economy,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “Today was the beginning of the General Assembly’s budget process and I look forward to working together with him in crafting a final product. I want to thank the Governor for including critical policy proposals for Connecticut families including raising the minimum wage to $15 and a paid family and medical leave program.”
“I applaud Governor Lamont for tackling a number of important structural budget issues in his address today,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “The Governor’s budget is a first step in the legislature’s budget process. Senate Democrats and myself will be evaluating and debating his proposals and many others in the months to come. I am particularly supportive of the Governor’s ideas to streamline state government by modernizing our IT infrastructure and moving more state functions online. However we move forward we need to ensure Connecticut’s budget works for middle class families, improves education, and invests in our economic future.”
Read the proposals here:
Economic Report of the Governor FY 2020 FY 2021
Governor’s Budget FY 2020-21 Final
2019 Budget FAQ