State senator says budget isn't what it claims to be

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Mar. 14, 2013
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) presented his 'Fiscal Responsibility Tour' at the Enfield Town Hall Council Chambers on  March 11. Photos by Colin Rajala.
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) presented his 'Fiscal Responsibility Tour' at the Enfield Town Hall Council Chambers on March 11. Photos by Colin Rajala.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) came to Enfield on March 11 to kick off his eight-town "Fiscal Responsibility Tour" to discuss Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s fiscal year 2014-2015 budget proposal and to gather public input for the coming legislative debate. At the first stop in the Enfield Town Hall Council Chambers, McKinney - alongside state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) - gave a brief presentation of the governor’s budget proposal as well as an update on the budget process in the General Assembly. The presentation was followed by an extensive question-and-answer period for the members in attendance.

“Obviously our focus for a variety of reasons has been on mental health and gun issues, but clearly the budget is a huge thing that we are going to have to tackle,” Kissel said. “The fact that there were prominent Democrats here as well as Republicans and unaffiliated voters, I think that is really good for the process. It’s good to have as much public dialogue on these issues as possible. When you have a lot of ideas and a lot of issues, that is how we come up with the best laws for our constituents.”

McKinney stressed the importance of the presentation and dialogue, adding that many of the good ideas in the state Capitol do not originate there; they are conceived and hashed out in small local meetings or community forums. During his presentation, McKinney aimed to educate the guests about the misnomers he sees within the budget, which he believes is the most dishonest he’s seen in his 15 years in the legislature. McKinney explained a number of areas within the governor’s proposal where his rhetoric does not match up with the actions that would be taken. For one, the governor claims to have included $1.8 billion in cuts, but McKinney said the budget actually calls for an increased $1.8 billion of spending within the next two years.

“Our state is in trouble financially,” McKinney said. “Were spending too much, were increasing taxes too much, our long term debt is too high; and unless we are willing to make significant fundamental changes in our government, how we spend money and where we spend money, we’re going to continue to tax people out of the state of Connecticut.”

McKinney’s presentation also featured key portions of the budget like exemption of vehicles from local property taxes. He noted the governor does not have a plan to replace the loss of revenue with another source, noting that Enfield could possibly lose more than $7 million in revenue. McKinney also noted that through other changes to municipal revenue, through shifting aids between accounts and funding sources, the town could expect to lose another $1.5 million in revenue.

Mayor Scott Kaupin was in attendance to confirm that with the governor’s current budget proposal, Enfield will take a more than $10 million revenue hit. The revenue hit could be eliminated from many towns, McKinney said, if what he mentioned as wasteful projects like the Hartford-New Britain bus line are not implemented.

“It shouldn’t be just this meeting and then it’s forgotten,” Kissel said. “Democracy is a 24/7 kind of endeavor, so we're doing our job if we get the public engaged, and I think tonight was a grand slam.”

Over the next four weeks the budget tour is scheduled to make stops in Bristol, Danbury, Greenwich, Manchester, Stratford, Wallingford, and Westbrook, with four to six more locations possibly being added.

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