HARTFORD, CT — Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has five days to decide whether he’s going to sign or veto the bipartisan budget compromise, which passed Thursday 33-3 in the Senate and 126-23 in the House.
Malloy is reviewing the budget documents, according to his staff. The full budget document wasn’t posted online until around 11 p.m. Wednesday, which is around the same time the Senate began debate.
The 881-page document includes a lot of information, much of which has already been reported or debated. However, there’s a lot of little changes in the budget that haven’t necessarily been reported yet and weren’t part of Thursday’s debate.
For example, the budget will prohibit for two years a requirement that 1 percent of the bond proceeds for state building projects be used to commission artwork.
It increases the amount withheld from the salaries of judges, family support magistrates, and compensation commissioners salaries appointed on or after January 1, 2018 to 6 percent. It also rolls back a 3 percent salary increase for judges and certain other judicial officials that took effect July 1, 2017, and reinstitutes the increases on July 1, 2019.
It eliminates a requirement for the Firefighters’ Cancer Relief Program to be funded by charges for the 911 system. The program was just created last year to help provide funds for firefighters who received a job-related cancer diagnosis. The fund wasn’t expected to be available for another two years.
A spokesman for House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the Firefighters Cancer Relief Program will be funded with money from the general fund.
The budget would also create some new commissions, at the same time as it cancels some mandated reports.
The budget would establishes a 14-member commission to develop and recommend policies to achieve state government fiscal stability and promote economic growth and competitiveness. It also establishes a 13-member commission called the Connecticut Pension Sustainability Commission to study the feasibility of placing state capital assets in a trust and maximizing them for the state pension system’s sole benefit.
It also requires the Teachers’ Retirement Board to study the impact of potential changes in actuarial assumptions used in the Teachers’ Retirement Fund’s valuation and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature.
In addition it requires the comptroller to annually determine and report the savings realized through the 2017 state employees labor agreement and related contracts. It will also allow state Comptroller Kevin Lembo for the first time to analyze the numbers he’s given by the Office of Policy and Management. He is currently restricted from questioning the numbers the governor’s budget office shares on a monthly basis.
For those seeking more information about how Connecticut’s tax structure actually impacts taxpayers, you’re going to have to wait. The budget pushes back to 2020 the deadline for the Department of Revenue Services to submit its first biennial tax incidence report to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
“By law, the report must show the extent to which different taxes burden different groups of people and types of businesses,” according to the bill analysis.
The budget also exempts the Office of Policy and Management and the Office of Fiscal Analysis from submitting their annual fiscal accountability reports to the legislature’s Appropriations and Finance Committees next month.
The budget Malloy is still contemplating also eliminates the certain admission tax exemptions for events at the XL Center in Hartford, Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, and New Britain Stadium. By eliminating the exemption it subjects these venues to a 10 percent admissions tax.
The budget would also allow state employees to take paid leave if they donate an organ or bone marrow. They would get seven days of paid leave for bone marrow donation and 15 days of paid leave for organ donation. The language was proposed as separate legislation during the regular session by Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, who had a kidney transplant last December.
There’s also a handful of increases to various fees.
It increases from $3 to $10 the recording fee municipalities charge to generate revenue for preserving historic documents. Currently, the municipality retains $1 of each fee for municipal historic document preservation and remits $2 of each fee to the state librarian for state historic document preservation. The bill doubles each of these amounts and requires municipalities to remit the remaining $4 to the state to be credited to the general fund.
It increases from $50 to $75 the fees for the following criminal history record searches: fingerprint, personal record, letters of good conduct, bar association, and criminal history record information. And it requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to charge new and used car dealers $35 for each used motor vehicle they accept as a trade-in when selling a new or used vehicle.
There are also a significant amount of unallocated lapses in the budget that would allow Malloy to hold back funding from state agencies, so many in the nonprofit community with state contracts have been unable to breath a sigh of relief.
“The budget is far from perfect. It funds some vital programs, while cutting others and includes unspecified cuts that could hurt community nonprofits,” Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, said.
The budget also has built into large deficits in 2020 and 2021. It assumes the state will end 2020 with a $1.87 billion deficit and 2021 with a $2.59 billion deficit.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said every budget scenario they looked at all had “out year deficits.” He said they believe the policy changes they made will help change those future deficits.