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Squeaker Vote, House Passes State Budget, Car Tax Cut For City Residents

June 3rd, 2015 · 39 Comments · News and Events, State Politics

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.

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39 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Our delegation sucks and so does fuck them tax them again Malloy. I hope all those who voted for this jerk are happy.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    Soft as butter.

    • Maria Pereira

      Hector, Stafstrom told a Hartford legislator he would not sign onto his amendment to defund Dr. Perry’s Charter School because it was not an issue in his district.

      Everyone I have spoken with in his district was quite upset when they heard this. What are your thoughts on Stafstrom’s claims?

      • Hector A. Diaz

        HE OWES THEM “MUCHO” TO LEADERSHIP, FOR COMING DOWN HERE FOR HIS FUNDRAISERS AND TO WALK WITH HIM, WHEN HE NEEDED THEM MOST TO WALK WITH HIM THEY CONVINCED HIM HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM OUTWEIGHS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CONSTITUENTS. HIS FEELING THAT ANYTHING DONE IN ANY PART OF BRIDGEPORT DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WITH ANY OF THE OTHER PARTS, SHOWS HIS INEXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

  • Bob Walsh

    “and includes 3 percent raises for non-union managers and judges.”

    And how much does this cost the taxpayers?

    House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, defended the $1.5 billion in tax increase included in the budget as necessary to avoid savage cuts in state spending for social programs such as those to help autistic children and people with cerebral palsy. He said Democrats made their decisions about taxes and spending after “seeing the faces of the people of Connecticut who needed help.”

    Is giving judges and non-union managers a 3% pay hike one of the savage cuts we avoided, Joe? Are these the faces of the people needing help?

    How about charter schools, Joe? Are these the savage cuts? No, this is new spending. Say it isn’t so, Joe.

    I hope someone (not Jonathan Pelto) is seriously looking to challenge Malloy starting today because he will single-handedly bring down the CT Democratic Party.

    • Maria Pereira

      Bob, the entire Bridgeport delegation voted to approve the $40 billion dollar budget which included funding for the two new charter schools.

      I watched the entire six-hour debate in the senate last night. Neither Marilyn Moore nor Ed Gomes offered an amendment to remove the funding for the charter school. In fact, neither of them said one word during the entire debate.

      Our entire delegation was disgraceful and lacked even the most basic level of courage. I for one am going to do everything in my power to hold them accountable.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    Anything on the conflict bill and how it did in the HOUSE?

  • charlie

    The majority of the people on this blog vote for the party! You get what you vote for.

  • Dave Walker

    The budget violates the state’s Constitutional spending cap, raises taxes and does not address the structural fiscal challenges we face. It will make CT even less competitive for both major businesses and middle- and upper-income individuals.

  • Maria Pereira

    I want to be absolutely clear, every single member of the Bridgeport delegation is going to be challenged in 2016.

    Not a single one of these “liars” deserves to be reelected, and I for one am going to do EVERYTHING in my power to ensure they are challenged. They may very well win, but they are going to have to survive the fight of their lives to achieve victory.

    Marilyn Moore had the nerve to reach out to me seven weeks ago to organize Bridgeport residents to go to the Capitol to lobby against Dr. Perry’s Charter School, I brought 2-5 residents with me for six consecutive weeks, and now she is going to vote to fund this charter school. Unbelievable.

    Ed Gomes told me directly before he ran in the Special Election he would “never” support Dr. Perry’s Charter School, or any other charter school because he is completely against privitization and is a union guy. He is going to now vote to fund Dr. Perry’s Charter School.

    Stallworth repeatedly told me he didn’t have a position on funding Dr. Perry’s Charter School, yet he was repeatedly allowing Dr. Perry to speak from his pulpit and use his church for meetings. Now he issues a press release supporting Dr. Perry’s Charter School.

    Stafstrom had the nerve to tell a Hartford legislator that charter schools were not an issue in his district. He refused to support the amendment. Imagine when I shared this with some of his most active constituents like Pete Spain, Howard Gardner, Lisa Parziale, John Bagley, Joanne Kennedy, Dr. Ann deBernard, Tyisha Toms, etc. He won by just 46 votes.

    Jack Hennessy, whose child attends a charter school in New Haven, is full of rhetoric. He gave this great speech in the caucus about how many people in Bridgeport were angry over the illegal takeover and he worked all summer to overcome that to help reelect Malloy and how Malloy was disrespecting Bridgeport. He then immediately told the CT Mirror he would still vote for the budget. If I were Malloy, I would have laughed. In the end, he agreed to support an amendment to defund the charter school but lacked the courage to do so. He told me he could not become a Malloy target.

    Andre Baker voted to support a moratorium on any new charter schools as a BBOE member in March 2014. However he refused to support a moratorium on new charter schools on the Education Committee. He agreed to support not funding Dr. Perry’s Charter School in this budget. He agreed to support Ed Vargas’ amendment to remove the funding for Dr. Perry’s Charter School. Once it was submitted, Andre withdrew his support.

    Ezequiel Santiago repeatedly gave me his word he would not support funding this charter school. He agreed to support an amendment to defund Dr. Perry’s Charter School and then withdrew his support. He told me he could not become a Malloy target and was concerned about losing funding for his pet project.

    Chris Rosario finally told Joanne Kennedy he agreed there should be no new funding in this budget for charter schools. He refused to support the amendment.

    It was embarrassing enough it was a Hartford legislator who had to even submit the amendment to defund a charter school in Bridgeport because not a single member of our delegation had the “balls” to do it themselves.

    After the amendment was withdrawn, one of the legislators who signed onto the amendment showed me the one remaining copy. There were more state reps. signed onto the amendment NOT from Bridgeport than from our own delegation. All of them were willing to back Bridgeport, debate the amendment and stand up to Malloy. Not one member of our delegation had their level of courage.

    When politicians lie to you, the only place you can hold them accountable is at the polls. If you continue to vote for politicians who will look you directly in the eyes and blatantly lie to you, you are encouraging them to do it over and over again because there are no consequences for the lies.

    Several lobbyists and elected reps. and senators told me yesterday the only thing a politician really has is their word, and when they lie it is up to their constituents to hold them accountable.

    Our delegation does not represent Malloy or special interests, they represent their constituents. Instead of worrying about becoming a target of Malloy, they should have been worried about becoming a target of their constituents.

    I know I am looking forward to 2016

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Maria, now you know they are bunch of lying bastards just like the rest of the politicians we have here in Bridgeport. No Surprise.

  • Bob Walsh

    Bridgeport is the absolute worst destination for a summer vacation out of 80 cities ranked by a leading personal finance and lifestyle site, due mostly to the high cost of accomodations, food, gas and other expenses.

    GETTING BETTER EVERY DAY!!! I GUESS LAST YEAR WE WERE 81 OUT OF 80.

  • Maria Pereira

    P.S. If just two of the Bridgeport state reps. had voted against this budget, it would have failed. Malloy needed the Bridgeport delegation so much more than they needed him. Instead of telling Malloy we will not vote for this budget unless you remove the funding of the charter school in Bridgeport, they capitulated.

    This is how “weak” the Bridgeport delegation is.

    I want to thank all those who have called me to offer their support and express their disdain and disappointment with the Bridgeport delegation. I do appreciate it.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    THEY SHOULD HAVE LEVERAGED THE CONFLICT BILL.

    • Maria Pereira

      Hector, that too. The fact the bill passed the senate unanimously, yet Jack Hennessy cannot get his bill passed in his own chamber as a four-term representative demonstrates how weak he is.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    They are all ass kissers. Look, you have Rosario who works for the city as does Santiago. Gomes is owned by the unions. Stallworth is just a dumb ass looking for deals like Moales has and the rest forget about.

  • Maria Pereira

    I just confirmed the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives proposed an amendment to move all $21,000,000 for Charter Schools to instead be used to fund our true public schools. The Democrats quickly defeated it.

    This included the entire Bridgeport delegation.

    I wonder how the CEA and the BEA feel about that.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      From Obama down the party line, charter schools are supported. Our public sector union leaders have overpromised their members benefits, our legislative body has backed the unions and absolutely misused funds everyone believed were sitting in public employees benefits accounts.
      Now the public has become aware of numbers like $1 billion shortfall in employee benefits, and taxpayers are up in arms. Is there a better way than supporting charter schools (giving private sector business tax breaks for funding) for the government to slowly erode the public unions, showing the taxpayers they are taking care of the outrageous benefit funding shortfall? Just asking for a friend.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Maria, you are right. Our state delegation–every single rep and senator–are clueless and gutless in regard to fighting for Bridgeport. Party loyalty and reelection trump the needs of the city. Sure, they bring home a little pork for the ward healers, sycophants and campaign contributors who keep them in their ego-inflating positions, but they are all double-talking windbags in the final analysis.

    We have an egomaniacal BS-er for a governor, and a whole cadre of legislator-lackeys from around the state who feed his ego like trained lapdogs.

    Bridgeport is being recreated as the “forever dump” and “servants’ quarters” with the complicity of our state delegation and no bold plan to change our course by any of the mayoral candidates.

    I think “hope I can sell my house” has a lot of company in Bridgeport today.

  • Donald Day

    How many times is Malloy going to try to balance the budget off the backs of smokers?

    In 1998 the State received $2 billion from the tobacco companies and used $24.5 toward smoke cessation programs while during that same period they used that money six times to balance the budget to the tune of $170 million. With a $2 billion budget hole you can bet Malloy and his band of hustlers in the State legislature will raid the fund once again to help fill that hole.

    • Godiva2011

      Donald Day–can you imagine what would happen to the budget if even half of the smokers in Connecticut quit? Where would they get the money?

  • Maria Pereira

    The Bridgeport delegation is no less culpable than Malloy. Had just two members voted no on the budget it would have failed.

    • Maria Pereira

      I just finished watching almost six hours of debate on the budget in the senate. As I thought, not one word from Moore and Gomes. They both voted for the $40 billion dollar budget without uttering one word.

      That isn’t leadership or demonstrating courage, that is being Malloy’s servant and displaying cowardice.

      • Maria Pereira

        Please note 11 Democrats in the house and two Democrats in the senate voted against the budget. Our entire delegation did not say one word during the six-hour debate in both the house and the senate.

        How do you vote for a $40 billion budget without a single comment or question? That’s easy. The Democratic leadership directed their members to sit there silently because the clock was ticking.

        Does our delegation represent those who elected them, or do they represent Malloy and the Democratic leadership?

        The actions of this entire delegation has been disgraceful.

      • Godiva2011

        Maria–I recall you ardently supporting those two senators. I’m sure you are very discouraged and disappointed by their performance thus far.

        • Maria Pereira

          Godiva2011, I NEVER supported Marilyn Moore. You are completely wrong on this point. That comment is pretty ridiculous.

          I did support Ed Gomes based on his commitment he would fight against any funding for Dr. Perry’s Charter School, and charter schools in general. He committed to do so.

          I also asked him to support Ganim for Mayor. He told me Ganim was a “good mayor,” he did “not have a problem with Joe.” He told me he could not publicly state he would support Ganim for Mayor yet because he couldn’t upset any of those willing to help elect him. He specifically stated “all I can tell you is I will be where my friends need me to be.”

          He made the same comment to those I closely work with. After he was elected, all of us who delivered significant victories at eight of his polling locations met with Ed. We asked him to commit to support Ganim, and if he couldn’t we could understand, however we asked him to stay out of the race and not support anyone. He refused to stay out of the race, but agreed to think about supporting Ganim.

          As far as I know, he never contacted any of us to at least tell us he had decided to support MJF. The next thing we knew he was with MJF at a barbershop discussion on violence on the East End. I can say with confidence the majority of us felt very disrespected by Ed.

          I guess we know the “friends” who mattered were the ones who didn’t deliver a single victory at any of his polling locations. MJF, Rob Traitor, Marilyn Moore, Bob Walsh, etc. did not deliver a single bloc of votes in Ed’s district.

          Three of us have already agreed, should Ed seek another term, we will not support him.

  • Maria Pereira

    The CT Mirror is reporting the Bridgeport delegation cut a deal for $3.4 million for the BPS. Let’s do the math. $670,000 of that will go directly to fund Dr. Perry’s Charter School for transportation and special ed.

    That leaves the BPS with about $2.7 million. The Commissioner’s Network was cut by $4.7 million and Bridgeport has three schools in the network. The Priority District Grant was cut by another $3.7 million. Bridgeport is one of 15 districts in this grant. They cut $1.6 million in bus transportation reimbursement.

    I would be shocked if the BPS netted even $1.5 million.

    In addition, this budget raises $200 million on middle class families by reducing the income tax credit from $300 to $100 beginning in 2016.

    This delegation needs to be held accountable for voting for this disgraceful budget.

    • Maria Pereira

      Latest reports state the property income tax credit is being reduced from $300 to $200, not $100. It will become effective in year two of the budget. This an absolute hit to the middle class.

      The tax exemption for clothing under $50, which was supposed to go into effect this year, was completely nixed. That certainly impacts every Bridgeport resident.

      The tax exemption for clothing priced at $300 and under during the annual tax-free week was reduced to $100. This will hurt those purchasing a winter coat and sneakers for back-to-school.

      So this budget helps reduce car taxes, but homeowners take a hit, and every single clothing item you purchase will be taxed. I am going to save about $100 a year in car taxes, however I will pay more than $100 in taxes on clothing. Where exactly is the benefit to the middle-class and poor taxpayer?

      Where is the benefit to the BPS? The BPS netted about $1.5 million for 2016/2017, but will lose an additional $7 million in the next five years to Dr. Perry’s Charter School. Our delegation is apparently completely incapable of basic math.

      • Booty

        Maria,
        As to the clothing tax, next time you want to take a mini-vacation, drive up to New Hampshire. You can see the sights and buy clothing there. They have NO SALES TAX. Your savings will more than pay for your gas (oh yeah, gas is about 25 cents a gallon cheaper, too). You can get to the White Mountains and also hit the factory stores in North Conway in less than five hours from Bridgeport. Or if you want the closest factory store mall, you can reach Merrimack in about 3 hours and also take in the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour.

        And don’t think the economic development folks in NH aren’t coming up with ads as we speak!

        • Godiva2011

          In addition to what you’ve mentioned about New Hampshire, their liquor outlet is an unbelievable bargain. We take a ride every fall to purchase for parties and gifts because their prices are far below those of Connecticut. Beautiful fall foliage to view on the ride up as well. The number of cars with CT plates in their parking lot are too many to count. CT is shooting itself in the foot with the high taxes on just about everything. I know people who live upstate who drive over the border to Massachusetts to fill up!

  • Quentin Dreher

    Everyone on this blog had an opportunity to vote for a very intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable financial person, Dave Walker. Someone who knows you can’t spend more than you take in and what types of spending would benefit all of Connecticut’s residents, not just a few. But everyone decided to fall for a two-time broken promise and vote party line. Now we suffer the consequences. No whining, just deal with it!

  • Maria Pereira

    Quentin, your statement is incorrect. The only people on this blog who had an opportunity to vote for Dave Walker were fellow Republicans. Only fellow Republicans can be held accountable for his loss.

  • Quentin Dreher

    If you want change bad enough, there is always a way!

  • Straight Arrow

    Change needs to start right here in Bridgeport.

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