Public pushes for state budget cuts at Fairfield legislative forum
State residents don't want their taxes increased, and several had suggestions Thursday for Fairfield's state legislative delegation on how they can help avoid tax hikes.
"I would like to see taxes not go to Planned Parenthood," Eillien Gifford told the legislators at a public forum they sponsored at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Gifford also said she supports only adult stem cell research.
Another woman suggested that if illegal immigration were controlled, the social services budget could be cut "because the people who are not obeying the law are becoming the chief recipients of social services."
Bob Hall said the state should eliminate funding for election campaigns, which he estimated costs the state about $30 million. "I think you should do away with that," he said.
On hand to hear the public comments, and give their own opinions on the budget proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, were state Sen. John McKinney and state Reps. Kim Fawcett, Brenda Kupchick and Tony Hwang.
"It's the largest tax increase in history," said McKinney, the leader of the Senate's Republican minority. "I guess that is an editorial comment, but it is also a 100 percent correct factual statement."
He said he doesn't disagree with the entire budget proposal by the Democratic governor, but said there must be deeper cuts and less spending. McKinney added that the budget proposal has built in surpluses of about $532 million that are unnecessary.
"I am fundamentally opposed to this budget," Hwang said. "We have not made a concentrated effort to cut spending."
Fawcett, the only Democrat among Fairfield's state legislators, said there are areas that she also feels the budget needs to be cut, and that as a member of the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee she spends her days going over budget line items.
She said the Malloy budget is "bold," but one that she feels "moves forward with the status quo in a way I was not expecting." Fawcett said she is disappointed that the hard work to balance the state's budget hasn't been done yet, but added she has a list of areas where she thinks savings might be found. Those areas, she suggested, include the $750,000 spent annually on the state's 2-1-1 info line and the "extra" layers of the dial-a-ride program originally intended for seniors that could save $3 million a year.
Kupchick said she disagrees with a proposal that would shift responsibility for the state's technical high schools to local boards of education. "There's a lot of pushback against that," she said.