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Friends and Neighbors,
 
The House passed a budget which is responsible, stable, and funds the Rainy Day Fund at historic levels. With significant investments in education, job growth, and economic development throughout the state, the budget holds the line on spending. The growth rate for fixed costs in the general fund is 1.3% and for non-fixed costs is just 0.03%.
Taxes
While the focus of those opposing this budget will be on tax increases, this budget also reduces taxes and reflects opposition to the Governor’s proposal to broaden the sales tax. This budget cuts the Admissions Tax at entertainment venues in half from 10% to 5% and provides a new tax credit for craft beer breweries to help grow this booming industry. The business entity tax is eliminated as of January 2020, helping small businesses and encouraging start-ups. And, the capital base tax on corporations is phased out to zero mills by 2024.
 
This budget modernizes the state sales tax by including digital goods and certain electronically delivered software. It also adds a new 1% tax on the sales and use of meals sold by eating establishments, caterers, or grocery stores and liquors, soft drinks, sodas, and beverages ordinarily dispensed at bars or soda fountains. Although not included in this year’s proposal, West Hartford could benefit from urging the legislature to send a percentage of the revenue generated by this new meal and liquor tax back to our town based on the revenue West Hartford generates. This budget also includes a new “mansion tax,” which is a surcharge on home sales over $2.5 million, only if the seller leaves Connecticut.
 
Teachers Pensions
It is essential that Connecticut pay-off our state’s debt. I am pleased that this budget uses $380 million of the the current year surplus to help shore up the teachers’ pension fund. West Hartford residents were clear that they did not support the Governor’s proposal to shift the teachers’ pension costs to our town and we listened. This budget also creates a Teachers’ Retirement Fund Special Capital Reserve Fund to further secure state payments of pension bonds.
 
Aging Adults
I heard from many aging residents in West Hartford that the rising cost of living is pushing them out of their homes and the community they love. I am pleased that the Democrats in the House and Senate held steadfast and will increase the income thresholds which taxpayers may deduct Social Security income and phase out the pension and annuity tax. This budget also rejects the Governor’s asset test for the Medicare Savings Program for low-income seniors, expands funding for Meals on Wheels, and provides a rate increase to nursing homes. Not only does the rate increase provide staff with a more livable wage, it also prevents unnecessary state spending during a labor strike for federally required temporary staffing.
 
Economic & Workforce Development
This budget recognizes the importance of developing small businesses, minority, and women-owned businesses with the expansion of the Angel Investor tax credit, a tax credit for those who invest at least $25,000 in an approved business. It also increases the number of businesses and nonprofits eligible to bid on small contractor and minority business enterprise set-aside contracts, including those owned or operated by people with disabilities. The budget also establishes a workforce development pipeline to better match curriculum with employer needs, including an advanced manufacturing focus to fill the thousands of open skilled jobs.
 
Environment
In an effort to support a healthier planet, we’ve found opportunities to reduce single-use waste by implementing a 10 cent tax on single-use plastic bags followed by full ban in 2021 while helping to reduce polluting emissions through rebate incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. The budget also protects the Passports to Parks account, repealing any diversion of funds from this account.
 
Higher Education
This budget increases funding for Higher Education to help stabilize tuition and improve long term stability of our college and university systems. It promotes “open source” online college textbooks to reduce costs and establishes debt free community college to ensure that all students have access to college.
 
Hospitals
As a new legislator, I was dismayed to learn that the budget proposals being considered reneged on a deal that had been promised to Connecticut hospitals. Through an agreement, this budget funds local hospitals to expand access to healthcare and protect thousands of jobs.

Often times we hear the mantra, “where are the cuts?” Since 2009, Connecticut has reduced the number of union, non-union and managerial state employees by 16%. This budget realizes over $450 million in state employee healthcare savings and more than $5 million executive branch contracting savings initiatives. We should continue to do more to realize additional savings and going forward I will continue to beat the drum to find efficiencies.   

We’ve worked hard to present a budget that is a reflection of our values and aspirations for the future. With this budget, I believe we offer not only growth but security for the residents of Connecticut. The budget goes to the Senate next and if approved, on to the Governor for signing. If there are additional budget items you are interested in, please feel free to contact me.

P.S. - The rest stops will open this summer!
 

WEST HARTFORD RESOURCES

To view the town calendar, click here

To view town services, click here.

To contact town officials and staff, click here

If you have questions, or ever need any help please don't hesitate to reach out by phone, (860) 240-8373 or email, Jillian.Gilchrest@cga.ct.gov. To stay up to date with everything I'm doing at the Capitol, visit any of my pages linked at the bottom of this email. 

Sincerely,

Jillian Gilchrest
State Representative

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