Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

June 4, 2019

Sen. Kushner Votes for Balanced State Budget That Investments in People, Jobs and Communities

HARTFORD – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) this evening joined with her Democratic Senate colleagues in passing a 2020-2021 state budget that supports working families, students and seniors while remaining fiscally responsible, paying pension obligations, and growing Connecticut’s Rainy Day Fund to an impressive $2.6 billion.

The Senate passed the budget on a 20-16 vote; it now heads to Governor Lamont for his signature.

The budget is balanced, includes no income or sales tax hikes, and keeps non-fixed state spending increases to a minuscule 0.3% in the first year of the budget.

“This budget balances a lot of competing needs, and it does so in a manner which is considerate of working families and their priorities: good jobs, good wages, and good educational opportunities,” Sen. Kushner said. “I’m also pleased with the action we are taking on single-use plastic bags. Connecticut is behind the curve in addressing this issue, and we need to find ways to better protect our environment. This is a good first step.”

Sen. Kushner praised some of the local investments in the state budget, including:

  • $50,000 per year for Danbury-area early childhood programs
  • $20,000 to help conduct an air quality survey in Sherman to address the opening of the Cricket Valley Energy Center in New York.
  • Restoration of budget funds to keep open the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network in Danbury
  • No local contributions to teacher’s pensions costs
  • Increased ECS funding for Danbury, and a slower phase-in of reduced ECS funding for certain other towns compared to the governor’s plan

The biennial state budget highlights include:

Supporting Connecticut Families

  • Includes funding to implement an increase in the minimum wage
  • Funds a Paid Family Medical Leave program

Monumental Positive Changes for Higher Education

  • Establishes debt-free community college for all Connecticut residents
  • Increases funding for UConn by $9.7 million in 2020 and $20.6 million in 2021

Safeguarding Seniors

  • Increases funding for nursing home workers that care for our seniors and avoids a statewide strike of workers ($11 million more in 2020 and $18.5 million more in 2021)
  • Provides funding for the Center for Medicare Advocacy ($300,000 in each year)
  • Increases funding for Meals on Wheels ($475,000 in each year)

Fiscal Responsibility

  • Over $2.6 billion in the “Rainy Day” fund
  • Only 1.7% growth in state spending in 2020 and 3.4% in 2021
  • Only 0.3% growth in non-fixed cost state spending in 2020 and 2.1% in 2021
  • 1,000 fewer Connecticut state employee positions
  • Budget is under the constitutional spending cap, the bonding cap, the expenditure cap and the volatility cap.

Invests in Job Creation and Workforce Development

  • Jobs Funnel Programs (Over $1 million each year)
  • Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative ($2 million each year)
  • Healthcare Apprenticeship Initiative ($500,000 each year)
  • Connecticut’s Youth Employment Program ($5 million each year)
  • Cradle to Career ($100,000 each year)
  • Pilot Re-Entry Program ($800,000 each year)
  • Veteran Machinists Training ($250,000 each year)

Holding the Line on Taxes

  • No increase in the sales tax rate, though the current sales tax is modernized to cover digital downloads, dry-cleaning, parking, and interior design
  • No increase in the income tax rate
  • No increase in the capital gains tax rate
  • Cuts income taxes for seniors on Social Security and pensions
  • Eliminates the business entity tax to help new companies start-up and remove a nuisance tax on all businesses

Funding Our Pensions and Paying Down Our Debt

  • Over $1.5 billion goes toward paying down last generation’s unfunded pensions
  • Only $229 million or 13% is for current employees in 2020 and $220 million in 2021
  • Funds 100% of pensions and benefits for current state employees and teachers

Other Investments

  • Fully funds Passport to the Parks program
  • Includes funding for Juvenile Justice ($11.7 Million in FY 20 and $10.2 Million in FY 21)
  • Funds services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities including employment and day services for new high school graduates ($6.3 Million in FY 20 and $14.6 Million in FY 21) as well as individuals aging out of the Department of Children and Families and residential schools ($3 Million in FY 20 and $5.7 Million in FY 21)
  • Preserves funding for mental health and substance abuse grants ($1.6 Million in each year)
  • Provides funding for caseload growth in the Birth to Three program ($1.4 Million in FY 20 and $2 Million in FY 21)
  • Includes funding for a new State Trooper Class in FY 20
  • Provides funding to staff Welcome Centers and restore the hours of operation at the Rest Areas on our highways
  • Provides $500,000 each year in new funding for the Connecticut Diaper Bank
  • Funds the Foreclosure Mediation Program $1.8 Million in FY 20 and $2 Million in FY 21.