Editor's note: Michael Downes is Communications Department Manager at the House Republican Office of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
State Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120) expressed disappointment as majority lawmakers resorted to budgetary gimmicks during late night hours to balance the state budget by raiding transportation funds, borrowing for operating expenses and cutting programs and services, six months after they rammed through the largest tax increase in state history.
"At the start of this session there were some things we were told would never happen," Hoydick said. "We were told that we would finish the fiscal year with a surplus, and there would be no borrowing to cover operational expenses."
"Now with a $300 million deficit that continues to grow, we are going into dedicated funds and doing just that -- borrowing to pay for the deficit they said we wouldn't have," she continued. "We were also told that we would be implementing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but that doesn't seem to have happened either.”
Hoydick said that the budget does not account for newly revised revenue estimates which show the state budget deficit is now at $285 million, thereby building into future budgets even greater deficits. She noted that revenue projections are now at least $300 million less than when the budget was adopted.
Payments will be reduced to the Teachers' Retirement Health Care fund by paying for it out of the Teachers' Retirement Fund. This will increase the unfunded liability within the teachers' pension funds.
Additionally, the budget would swipe $70 million from the Special Transportation Fund by taking $30 million from Town Road Aid, delaying bond sales and reducing the STF balance.
Hoydick also expressed concern that the gimmickry will affect additional charges on customer's electric bills.
"This budget removes $2 million from the Systems Benefits Charge (SBC) fund which is paid for by all electric customers through an on-bill charge," she said. "This fund pays for many programs which through statute are already in place and funded."
"If the SBC falls into deficit, the electric utility companies will assess a higher tax rate to replenish what is necessary to fund these programs. This fund has no business coalescing with the General Fund and this gimmickry most likely will cause our electric bills to increase."