BRISTOL - City and state officials hope that Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy‚Äôs final State of the State speech translates to a timely and fair budget.
‚ÄúThis year, in the face of growing national inequality and unfairness, I want to begin a conversation about a series of common sense changes we can adopt to advance our proud tradition of Connecticut Fairness,‚ÄĚ Malloy said in his speech on Wednesday before inviting the legislature to work with him on many initiatives.
‚ÄúI liked the governor‚Äôs emphasis on ‚Äėfairness,‚Äô and hope that this theme also translates into a timely budget being delivered to cities and towns so that we can plan accordingly,‚ÄĚ Democratic Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu wrote in an email.
Two days before Malloy‚Äôs speech, he unveiled his final budget proposal, offering modifications to the 2018-19 budget accepted by the legislators in October.
Under that proposal, Bristol‚Äôs municipal aid increased from $50,384,944 to $50,524,444, representing less than a one percent increase for FY 2019. That municipal aid is more than Bristol received in FY 2018 and in the legislature‚Äôs proposed budget, explained Zoppo-Sassu.
‚ÄúAs of this time we have had minimal state funding impact and our education funding is preserved due to our status as an Alliance Grant district,‚ÄĚ Zoppo-Sassu wrote in the email. ‚ÄúBoth of these pieces are very good news for us as we are in the beginning stages of putting together our own budget.
‚ÄúWe are not slated to receive any state aid from the casino slots, and have been zeroed out for Municipal Revenue Sharing and the Transition grant; however, we are still scheduled to receive the Town and Aid Grant, Education and Adult Education funds, as well as money from the Municipal Stabilization grant line item,‚ÄĚ Zoppo-Sassu wrote.
Zoppo-Sassu added, ‚ÄúI have already met with the legislative leaders in the Senate and the House, and will be tracking other pieces of legislation that affect Bristol, especially those that give us more authority to deal with foreclosed and bank-owned property, quality of life issues, and future consideration like how to solve our transportation issues.
‚ÄúI sat through a presentation last month by [Department of Transportation] Commissioner James Redeker, which was fascinating about how we have gotten to this point. These long-term challenges for the state affect us locally as well.‚ÄĚ
State Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol, said in a press release, even though he and his colleagues may agree with some of the ideals Malloy spoke of in his speech, he failed to provide a realistic plan to achieve those ideals of fairness.
‚ÄúWe are facing a budget deficit, serious problems with our infrastructure, and an economy that still has not recovered from the recession of nearly a decade ago,‚ÄĚ Martin said in the release. ‚ÄúNot once did he talk about the budget and all the taxes he plans to impose.‚ÄĚ
Furthermore, in the release, Martin pointed out that Malloy‚Äôs call to fairly take care of the most vulnerable contradicts cuts to the Medicare Savings Plan outlined in Malloy‚Äôs budget proposal. ¬†
‚ÄúBarely a week ago, my colleagues and I overwhelmingly voted to override the governor‚Äôs veto and restore funding to the Medicare Savings Plan,‚ÄĚ Martin said in the release. ‚ÄúWithout that funding, more than 100,000 low-income seniors and disabled residents would have been removed from a program that helps them pay for co-pays and premiums not covered by Medicare.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúGovernor Malloy‚Äôs words don‚Äôt match his actions. Monday he proposes once again to leave those vulnerable residents out in the cold,‚ÄĚ Martin continued. ‚ÄúIt seems they are not the ‚Äėvulnerable‚Äô residents he talked about caring for and being fair to on Wednesday.‚ÄĚ
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-801-5088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org