It’s noisy in Hartford on the last day of the legislative session. The State House in a 73-70 vote Wednesday morning passed a controversial two-year $40 billion spending plan with tax increases opposed by some of the state’s business giants threatening to leave Connecticut. The budget awaits Senate approval. All six members of the city’s House delegation voted for the budget.
Under the budget approved by the House, Bridgeport residents will see a drop in car taxes in two steps over the next two years based on 32 mils and then lowered to 29.36 mils, the average statewide mil rate of Connecticut municipalities. Bridgeport’s mil rate is 42. The state will reimburse the city for the revenue losses as part of an effort to provide relief on car tax payments.
The city will receive an extra $3.3 million in education spending this year and another $4.5 million next year.
The city will also receive millions more in reimbursement on tax-exempt properties.
More from the Hartford Courant here.
Here’s what Bridgeport’s State House delegation has to say about the budget:
Bridgeport State Representatives Andre Baker (D-124th), Charlie Stallworth (D-126th), Jack Hennessy (D-127th), Christopher Rosario (D-128th), Steve Stafstrom (D-129th) and Ezequiel Santiago (D-130th) today backed a biennial budget package (HB 7061) that provides property tax relief to working families, protects the services that middle-class families rely on, and invests in a world-class transportation system to grow our economy.
“One of the top priorities we focus on when crafting a state budget is to ensure that aid to municipalities is kept intact because any decrease in aid is usually shifted to local property taxes. This budget kept our education funding intact, which is a large part of our municipal budget. Education Cost Sharing funding will not be decreased. In addition we got funding for important programs such as the Ralphola Community Center that provides so many high quality, diverse, responsive and innovative programs and services,” Rep. Baker said.
“Each and every one of Bridgeport’s legislators has worked to keep the city on the radar in the budget when it comes to projects that will enhance commerce, quality of life and educational opportunities. I am pleased funding for Steel Point will see new activity that will continue to prepare the site for maritime commerce. In addition, Charter Schools will see new funding to keep them viable and strong – that will bring a new Charter School to Bridgeport,” Rep. Stallworth said.
“This session presented unique challenges that required tough decision-making. The result of the hard work is that we have a well thought out budget that works. As Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I am very pleased to see one of the most important items for veterans remained in the budget–veteran’s pensions will no longer be taxed. This is a welcomed development for our state’s veterans,” Rep. Hennessy said.
“This has been a real eye-opener for me as we caucused, discussed, debated and tweaked the state budget. It’s hard work, but I am pleased that all of my colleagues came together to make sure we included funding for major projects. A major transportation project will include a new Barnum Train Station that will enhance commuting options for the whole city and make it a more attractive place to do business. It also bears repeating: there is funding included for Beardsley Zoo, the Discovery Museum and Barnum Museum,” Rep. Rosario said. “This budget provides tax relief for working families in the park city.”
“Through this budget we deliver on a long overdue promise of real property tax relief to the hard working families of Bridgeport. By cutting the car tax roughly 30%, providing millions of additional dollars to offset property taxes and increasing education funding we are making smart investments in the future of our City. Strong cities and a world class transportation system are what will continue to lead Connecticut into the 21st Century economy. This budget makes the hard choices which result in the down payments on those goals,” Rep. Stafstrom said.
“It is only through the commitment of dedicated representatives that we overcome all of differences to arrive at a budget everyone can vote on. As we debate on the House Floor, I am happy to report that Bridgeport is well represented in this budget with the inclusion of important programs like Platform to Employment, Cradle to Career and funding for Beardsley Zoo, the Discovery Museum and Barnum Museum, to name a just a few,” Rep. Santiago said.
Beginning July 1, 2016, Bridgeport will receive additional state funding, mainly from state sales tax revenue that will be directed toward municipalities for property tax relief. Bridgeport will receive an additional $14,177,929. Bridgeport will also see an increase in Education Cost Sharing of over $3.3 million.
Bridgeport’s current mil rate for automobile taxes is over 42 mils. The budget institutes a cap of 32 mils in 2016 and 29.36 mils in 2017 on the rate cities and towns use to levy car taxes which will be a significant decrease for the city’s residents. Since the state will cover any lost revenue to municipalities with higher mil rates, it’s a win for taxpayers and cities and towns.
Facing projected deficits over the next two years, over a billion dollars of cuts have been made to the current services budget. The budget also ensures significant investments in Connecticut’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, including improvements to roads, bridges and rail.