The 925-page document implementing the state budget was released at 6:15 a.m. Friday morning.
The bill included a number of surprises like a sweeping expansion of the Family Medical Leave Program, creation of a Transportation Finance Authority to implement electronic tolls at “one” public hearing, and a statewide property tax that would apply to anyone who owns a second home in Connecticut.
There’s also language that would limit State Elections Enforcement investigations to one year, without giving the watchdog agency more resources. Similar language died during the regular legislative session, which adjourned on June 7. The SEEC has a backlog of complaints dating back to 2014, at the same time the General Assembly has continued to reduce its funding.
“We need them to work efficiently with the directions that we give them,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.
Earlier this week, the CT Realtors complained about a hike in the real estate conveyance tax, but it was removed as part of negotiations. However, language regarding a statewide property tax on seasonal homes is causing just as much of a headache for realtors.
Budget language for the statewide property tax says it would apply to “Any such property owned by an entity other than a natural person shall be presumed to be a secondary single-family property.” Initially, lawmakers were hoping the tax would apply only to out-of-state residents with vacation homes in Connecticut, but the definition didn’t pass legal muster.
Asked about the proposal, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, who is a realtor, said budgets are all about compromises.
He said it would only apply to single-family homes.
As for the details, “we’ll have to see how that works out,” Duff said.
The legislative analysis and fiscal note were still not available around noon, but those who have a stake in the outcome of the budget were sharing as much information as they could on social media.
Dan Schwartz, an employment attorney with Shipman and Goodwin who owns the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, posted about the big changes to the Family Medical Leave Act. It would require employers to offer new parents up to 32 weeks of leave. It would also expand the scope of relationships covered under FMLA to include siblings, grandparents and grandkids.
The Senate is expected to take up the budget first Friday and then send it to the House.