June 9, 2021

Investing in Connecticut’s Future – With No Tax Hikes

Senate gives final, bipartisan approval to two-year state budget

HARTFORD – State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) today joined his colleagues in the state Senate to pass a bipartisan, two-year state budget that invests in education, towns, and nonprofit social service providers without raising taxes. This budget remains well under the state spending cap and allocates an extra $1 billion toward paying off Connecticut’s historic unfunded pension debt.

The Senate voted 31-4 to pass House Bill 6689, the state biennial budget for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2023. The budget, which had previously been approved by the House of Representatives, now heads to Governor Ned Lamont, who is expected to sign it into law.

With a billion-dollar year-end budget surplus, the Rainy Day Fund at a historic high, our state bond rating at its strongest level in two decades, and state income tax and federal revenues swelling, Connecticut is well-positioned to make major investments in education, town aid, social services, health care and workforce development programs.

“This is a budget that paves the way for a better future in Connecticut,” said Sen. Haskell. “I’m especially proud that it expands the Open Choice program in our region, enabling towns to welcome students from nearby urban districts that struggle with overcrowding. I’m also thrilled to know that the PACT program is fully funded, setting up Connecticut’s debt-free college system to assist thousands more students pursue a degree. It accomplishes all this and so much more without raising taxes, and I was happy to support it.”

The two-year General Fund budget totals $42.46 billion: $20.8 billion in FY 22, and $21.66 billion in FY 23. The budget including all nine special funds (i.e. the Special Transportation, Banking, Insurance, Workers’ Compensation and other funds) totals $46.36 billion. This remains $22.2 million under the state-mandated sending cap in FY 22 and $35.7 million under the spending cap in FY 23, all while making an extra billion-dollar payment toward Connecticut’s unfunded pension debt.

The seven towns in the 26th district will receive $11.62 million next year (Fiscal Year 22) and $11.667 million the year after for a total of $23.288 million. Every town in the district will see an increase in state funding with an increase of $324,590 next year and $371,222 the year after.

Highlights of the state budget include:

  • For decades, poor fiscal planning in Connecticut has led to ballooning unfunded pension liabilities. The cloud hanging over the head of today’s taxpayers is costly and unfair, and this budget ensures that the next generation does not face a similar headache. For the first time in 75 years, Connecticut will make a bulk payment of $63 million toward our unfunded pension liability.
  • The budget increases the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, the most successful anti-poverty program in American history. By increasing the tax credit from the current 23% of the federal income tax to 30.5%, this budget will put money back into the pockets of working families, providing an additional $40 million in income to nearly 195,000 Connecticut households.
  • Education Cost Sharing Grant – This budget keeps our promises related to local education funding and maintains the current roll-out of the ECS formula providing cities and towns with additional $130 million over the next two years, while holding harmless towns that would have otherwise lost funds. It also provides additional funding to school systems with higher numbers of low-income students and English Language Learner students.
  • Debt-Free Community College – Provides $14 million in FY 22 and $15 million in FY 23 to fully implement debt-free community college. This makes community college free and accessible to all students in Connecticut and leverages federal dollars brought in by additional student enrollment to help ensure the long-term success of our community college system.
  • Direct Support for Nonprofits – Provides $50 million in support from the FY 21 surplus to the non-profit providers of health and human services that contract with state agencies. In addition, it provides an additional $30 million in FY 22 and FY 23 to these agencies.
  • Supports Survivors of Domestic Violence – Provides funding for staff positions to implement new domestic violence laws and for a grant program to provide legal representation to applicants for restraining orders.