HARTFORD, CT — Democrats and one Republican were on hand Wednesday to watch the governor sign the two-year state budget, which relies heavily on one-time federal funding, but abstains from major tax increases.
Gov. Ned Lamont signed the $46.7 billion package during a short afternoon ceremony at the state Capitol building. The tax and spending plan for the next two years was approved with bipartisan support by the legislature earlier this month.
“We want to do everything we can to make Connecticut more affordable for our working families and our middle class and that’s what this budget does,” Lamont said.
The budget makes use of $1.75 billion in one-time federal revenue to help achieve a number of progressive goals including expanding the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, dedicating millions in new funding to nonprofit service providers, and increasing state aid to municipalities through hikes in education grants and restructuring a program for non-taxable municipal property.
“This is transformative, I think, in terms of municipal aid,” Senate President Martin Looney said. “It builds equity into the formula in a way that had not previously existed.”
Although the budget attracted 22 Republican votes in the House and support from all but four Republican senators, only Rep. Holly Cheeseman of Niantic, the ranking minority member on the Finance Committee, made the trip to Hartford for the ceremonial bill signing Wednesday.
“This budget makes great investment in our communities, in our citizens in addressing some of the needs that have been revealed and exacerbated during the pandemic,” Cheeseman said.
Lamont also signed the more controversial implementer bill, an 800-page document which administers the budget but contains a multitude of other policies negotiated by the governor and lawmakers.
The implementer bill, which was passed with no Republican support, contained provisions on a wide range of topics. For instance, some sections updated voter registration systems and restored the voting rights of parolees. Another section requires that towns with sports team names or mascots depicting Native Americans change the offending material or risk losing grants through a fund supported by revenues generated from the two tribal casinos.
“Listen, I think the principles within the implementer are certainly something that both parties support,” Rep. Sean Scanlon, co-chair of the Finance Committee, said. “There were things that were in the implementer that people found objectionable, but I think that, by and large, an overwhelming majority of what was in both those documents are things that both caucuses support.”