Rep. Hamzy Response to The Bristol Press, March 3rd article “Legislators under gun for mandate relief”
The Bristol Press yesterday published a front-page article titled, “Legislators under gun for mandate relief,” which asserts none of Bristol’s state legislators, “champion the idea of lifting expensive requirements forced on cities and school systems across Connecticut.”
This is simply not true. Allow me to set the record straight.
The truth is, unfortunately, unfunded state mandates on municipalities have become a partisan issue in Hartford. In this day and age of budget deficits at the state and local level, there is simply not enough money to send what is requested to municipalities. Fortunately, our local leaders understand this. Unfortunately, the state continues to demand of local governments that they be required to do certain things and then doesn't pay the cost for these services. This is what is called an unfunded state mandate. In the last two years I, along with the rest of the House Republican caucus, have submitted more than a dozen proposals to either suspend or eliminate some unfunded mandates to give towns more flexibility to spend the money we do send them. These bills and amendments have either been ignored by the Democrats or voted down by them. In fact, during the 2008 legislative session, the House Republican Caucus proposed that any new unfunded or underfunded state mandate on municipalities require a two thirds vote of the legislature, a proposal which I specifically supported and was mentioned in the article.
Speaker Donovan could allow debate on current municipal relief proposals, but chooses not to. Instead, he creates a “legislative commission,” thus scoring political points this session without any meaningful legislative action.
I agree with Mayor Ward that, “decisions about how best to use limited amounts of revenue should be left up to city leaders rather than being dictated from Hartford.” We in Hartford are not elected to determine how best to run the City of Bristol; the Mayor, City Council, Board of Finance and the Board of Education are.
As the article mentioned, it is true that municipalities have long complained about unfunded mandates. Yet it is also true the House Republican caucus has time and again championed their cause and represented their voice in Hartford. Hopefully, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will decide to offer real substantive relief to cities and towns immediately. It is way past due.
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