The Senate gave final passage Monday to legislation that will increase funding to municipalities, eliminate welfare liens, and change tax penalties for commuters.
The Senate passed the bill 28 to 7. Republicans, who voted against it, largely objected to how the legislation was raised. It was raised as an emergency certified bill.
“They aren’t dealing with the COVID pandemic. They aren’t dealing with health equity,” Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said.
The bill deals with tax credits for commuters, payment-in-lieu-of-taxes or PILOT grants to communities, and liens by the Department of Social Services.
Republicans also objected to the idea of lumping all three concepts into one bill.
Kelly said he didn’t understand why the Democratic majority was rushing to get this done.
“We’re passing a policy without funding,” Kelly said referring to the new PILOT formula. “When you make these promises without putting a dollar amount in the budget you’re looking at a tax increase.
Democratic lawmakers defended the proposal.
“There are many ways a municipality is unable to meet its basic needs,” Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, said.
He said under the proposal in the bill Monday every town gets PILOT funding.
“There are an increasing number of towns that can’t meet their basic needs,” Fonfara said.
And that’s because the state has historically underfunded the formula.
“We have so much property not on the grand list, a lack of valuable property and yet a burden in many communities where the mill rate is high,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.
He said the revisions will provide “greater equity” in the formula.
Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said cities and towns are looking for something that’s sustainable and predictable when it comes to PILOT.
“While it doesn’t help every city and town in Connecticut, it doesn’t hurt any either,” DeLong said.
But cities and towns are not going to count on the money until it’s appropriated.
“Like anything, our members aren’t counting the dollars until they receive them,” DeLong said.
Republicans largely supported the idea of eliminating the welfare lien on about 1,300 families a year.
“The repeal of the welfare lien should stand alone,” Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, said.
Formica said Republicans would largely be in favor of that and would like to vote for it, except it’s part of a larger bill.
“Which means I have to say no to something I’m not opposed to,” Formica added.
The bill passed the House last week 125 to 24. One Democrat, Rep. Pat Boyd, joined 23 Republican lawmakers in voting against it. It’s headed to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk. The governor has signaled that he would sign the legislation.