September 1, 2009

City lawmakers split on new state budget

The two-year state budget approved by state lawmakers this week, which hikes spending by 4 percent, contains funds to keep the Bristol Technical Education Center and the Bristol courthouse open.

It also continues funding for Head Start, Dial-a-Ride, early childhood education and other threatened programs, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Gov. Jodi Rell told reporters she won’t sign the $37.6 billion budget, but she won’t veto it either, allowing the spending plan to take effect after five days.

The city’s legislative delegation split 3-2 on the spending plan, with Democrat Chris Wright, a 77th District freshman, joining the opposition with veteran Republican Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes northwestern Bristol.

The rest of the city’s delegation -- Sen. Tom Colapietro and Reps. Frank Nicastro and Betty Boukus, all Democrats -- voted in favor of it.

Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat whose 31st District includes Bristol, Plainville and Plymouth, said the spending plan is “a fair budget.

"It takes care of most of the people," the Bristol Democrat said. "It's a budget with a heart."

Both Colapietro and Nicastro took aim at those who opposed the spending plan.

"I dare any of the no votes to say they did anything for their communities," Colapietro said. "If you vote no, it just means you're being downright stubborn."

Nicastro said that legislators "did what they had to do" instead of "whining and complaining" about a budget that everyone can find fault with.

"We didn't sit back and say no," Nicastro said. "We did what had to be done."

Wright said he voted against the budget "just because I was so concerned about the amount of borrowing" involved.

The $2.5 billion in additional debt that lawmakers have approved to balance the books, he said, "just too much for us to be taking on at this point."

Wright was one of nine Democrats in the House to oppose the measure. The final vote was 103 to 45, with Republican providing most of the opposition. The Senate backed it 22-13.

Hamzy said there is “no family in the entire state that has responded to this economic crisis as the state has."

He said that lawmakers had a chance this year to take a serious look at restructuring state government to make it more efficient and less costly.

Instead, he said, "They took a pass."

Boukus, a Plainville Democrat whose 22nd District includes a sliver of Forestville, said the budget’s “commitment to fully fund municipal aid and education funding will come as welcome news to property taxpayers.”

To close the budget gap, Hamzy said, Democratic legislators agreed to take $1.4 billion from the rainy day fund, use $2 billion in federal stimulus cash, increase taxes by $1.5 billion, borrow $2.3 billion and make $400 million in spending cuts.

"How can you justify that to the average person who's struggling?" Hamzy asked.

Hamzy was among the sponsors of an alternative budget last night that would have cut more deeply and not sought any tax hikes. It was shot down overwhelmingly.

He said the Democrats failed to offer a responsible budget and ignored pleas from municipalities to provide them with mandate relief.

Hamzy said the spending plan will result in more businesses closing their doors in Connecticut.

"There's no question about it," Hamzy said.

Hamzy said the state has to recognize that "we can't spend money we don't have."

He said the budget does nothing to help with the $4.4 billion budget gap that's already opened in 2012 -- and in fact would make it harder to deal with since borrowing costs will rise from $1.2 billion annually to $1.7 billion a year.

"This passes the buck," Hamzy said, instead of trying to address the issue.

"This is unsustainable," Hamzy said. "This is not the right path."

Hamzy said he is glad the technical school is getting funded, but isn't so sure the courthouse should survive.

"I don't know if that's something we can afford," Hamzy said.

Nicastro said the spending plan had to include “massive cuts” and some tax hikes in order to close a budget gap of more than $8 billion. "There was no other way," Nicastro said.

"The Democrats worked very, very hard to put together a budget," Nicastro said.

Nicastro hailed the inclusion of funds for the technical school and courthouse.

He said he was especially grateful to Art Marino, who collected more than 600 signatures supporting the technical school. Nicastro said the petitions were given to House Speaker Chris Donovan of Meriden.

Colapietro said the budget isn't perfect, but it's a good compromise.

"We need a budget, for everyone's sake," the senator said.

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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry Frank you're wrong, this was a bad budget.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the word of a educated lawyer (Hamzy) over that of a machine-operator/union-thug anyday.

Anonymous said...

Frank is right on the budget. Kudos to the Democrats.

8:29 PM – FYI... Most lawyers are educated liars!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Hamzy for voting on behalf of the people who voted you in, not like Frank who is out for himself.

Anonymous said...

Hamzy do nothing kissy kissy. You jerks are so obviously biased.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how "LIARS" and "LAWYERS" sound so much alike!

Anonymous said...

Somebody play taps on Frank Nicastro's trumpet so he knows his political career is over if this state budget lands up with a big hole in it at the end of the first year.

Anonymous said...

As a person who's had a lot of experience with attorneys, I have never heard one of them lie. They're smart enough, though, to make you think they've said something that they haven't actually said. Especially if it's something you WANT to hear. And they know when to not say anything at all. (Tommy could do a little more of that.)

You just have to pay attention, listen, and do a little thinking of your own.

In this case, the state budget, Hamzy is telling you what you should know. Try analyzing the arguments for the budget and it won't take long to see it's a big bad idea. Taxpayers lose.

Anonymous said...

You say "Plenty" And most of it is made up any way. Same o; crap from you.

Anonymous said...

You republican hacks know everything. Ha !

Anonymous said...

12:50 WE'RE JUST SHOWING YOU THAT WE CAN BE JERKS LIKE YOU. IF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT GO CRAWL BACK IN YOUR HOLE AND STOP IT !

Anonymous said...

8:29 PM – FYI... Most lawyers are educated liars!
September 1, 2009 9:01 PM

--So Kate Matthews fits that description?

Anonymous said...

"WE'RE JUST SHOWING YOU THAT WE CAN BE JERKS"

No need to state the obvious...we know!