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Photo of Senator Steve Cassano.

STATE SENATOR

Steve Cassano

Advocating for Common-Sense Solutions

Budget Update

April is "budget month" in the state legislature, with the budget-making Appropriations Committee holding lots of public hearings on Governor Malloy's proposed budget and then taking that public input to craft their own version of a state spending plan for the next two years. All of this committee work is supposed to be wrapped-up by the end of April, and then their budget proposal is discussed and re-shaped with more legislative and public input.

It's fair to say that the governor's budget plan was dead on arrival the day it was released; his proposed changes to school funding for cities and towns and his idea to have every town pay 30 percent of their teacher retirement costs were rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Because I do not serve on the Appropriations Committee, I have no vote on their proposed spending plan. However, I do serve on the Finance Committee, which is essentially charged with telling the legislature how much money (revenue) we have to spend. About 46 percent of Connecticut's revenue comes from the income tax, with 20 percent from the sales tax, 8 percent from businesses, 6 percent from federal funds, 3 percent from the casinos, 2 percent from the gas tax and 2 percent from cigarette taxes. April is a big month for the Finance Committee, too, as we will learn by the end of the month how much income tax revenue has been collected.

We are also deeply concerned about the impact of potential, major cuts from the federal government, and it is likely that those federal cuts won't be determined until after our biennial state budget has been adopted. Stay tuned!

Banning Harmful Recycled Rubber on Playgrounds

It is my intention as Senate Co-Chair of the Planning and Development Committee to support a bill which has just been referred to us by the Children's Committee.

That bill, House Bill 6998, "An Act Concerning The Use Of Recycled Tire Rubber At Municipal And Public School Playgrounds," would prohibit, beginning October 1, 2017, the installation of any crumb rubber ground cover on municipal and public school playgrounds.

"Crumb rubber" is material that contains shredded or ground-up rubber that is recycled from car and truck tires. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are currently investigating whether this material is even safe for youngsters to play on or around. One recent Yale study found 11 known carcinogens and 20 different irritants in nine different types of rubber mulch that they tested.

playground

The public testimony in support of this bill was overwhelming, but for some reason, the bill was passed on a strict party-line vote, with every Republican voting "No." I hope to achieve more bipartisan consensus on this measure in the P&D Committee!