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Pix And Video From The Orange Inauguration

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Nov 182017
 

On Friday, Nov. 17, the town of Orange hosted its Inauguration Ceremony for all newly elected officials.

Although some of them could not attend, a majority of these fine folks were in attendance to be sworn-in. State Rep. Themis Klarides administered the oath of office.

Now going into his seventh term as First Selectman, James Zeoli gave a nice speech, praising his fellow public servants and giving a nod to his former challenger Margaret Novicki for her hard work during the campaign.

Here is a VIDEO of that speech – For some reason, the 18-minute video cut off after 5 minutes… I will work on fixing that.

 

 

Connecticut Finally Has A Budget

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Nov 012017
 

On Tuesday Gov. Dannel Malloy Tuesday finally signed into the law the bipartisan budget agreement members of the General Assembly reached, but he vetoed appropriations in support of a new hospital tax proposal and said the budget is “by no means a perfect document.”

In a statement, Malloy said, “After 123 days without a budget, it is time to sign this bipartisan bill into law and continue the steady and significant progress our state has made over the past several years. Connecticut’s families and businesses deserve to have a budget in place, one that provides a stable environment to live and work.”

He added, “While there are certainly many provisions of this budget I find problematic, there’s also a clear recognition of many of the fiscal priorities and concerns I’ve consistently articulated since January. I appreciate the work of the General Assembly in passing a budget to my desk that I can sign.”

Malloy’s office said there are provisions of this budget that the administration finds problematic, but, taken as a whole, the budget incorporates many of Malloy’s policy priorities, including creating a municipal accountability review board aimed at playing “a significant role in bringing the City of Hartford back from the brink of bankruptcy and providing the state the necessary tools to intervene early to restore fiscal stability to struggling towns and cities.”

CLICK on the Arrows in the lower corner to see the document.

The budget adopts changes to the Estate Tax and Insurance Premium Tax and supports an initiative to assist residents with crumbling foundations.

“While this may be a step in the right direction, make no mistake about it – this is by no means a perfect document and it is not one I would have negotiated,” Malloy said. “There are real legal and structural issues with the budget presented to me, and I have concerns about the state’s ability to keep it in balance over the biennium and beyond. That’s why, along with my signature, I am also line-item vetoing a component of the budget relating to the supplemental payments to hospitals that would leave Connecticut taxpayers exposed to legal challenges and a potential $1 billion budget shortfall per year. I strongly urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to convene as soon as possible to pass a legal alternative to the illegal hospital tax and troublesome supplemental payment and rate language presented in the bill.”

Klarides Responds

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said towns and cities will get relief from having a budget in place after Gov. Malloy signed it today, but his line-item rejection of the state hospital reimbursement deal could lead to future deficits and will require further legislative action.

“The good news is that our towns and cities will finally have relief in the way of state aid and our much needed social services programs will continue,’’ Klarides said. “The bad news is the issues regarding our hospitals remain unresolved because of the Governor’s line-item veto, and the House and Senate will have to address that.’’

Klarides said the initial Republican budget passed in mid-September with Democrat votes and vetoed by Gov. Malloy was a better plan for Connecticut because it did not raise any taxes and provided much-needed relief to municipalities. The compromise budget reached with Democrats last week is preferable to the highly destructive executive orders that the Governor issued that would have eliminated aid to many towns and cities and gutted the social services networks.

“The ongoing dispute between the Governor, the hospitals and the legislature on the language required to access the pool of federal money the hospitals are seeking we believed was settled in the compromise budget,’’ she said. “Now we need to deal with his line-item veto.’’ 

Lawmakers have consulted with the Connecticut Hospital Association on how best to devise a plan that will succeed in obtaining federal reimbursement for the taxes hospitals will pay.

State Budget Passes House With Veto Proof Margin

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Oct 262017
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said the passage of the compromise state budget after nearly four months of the fiscal year closes the $3.5 billion deficit without raising income taxes and includes historic spending constraints.

”The budget we have put in place includes historic spending constraints that will hedge against future deficits. While this budget is not perfect, it reflects the core Republican components of spending restraints, less borrowing so that we can finally start living within our means,’’ Klarides said.

She added, “This is a day of hope for the people of Connecticut.’’

The budget passed 126-23 at 12:40 p.m. after several hours of debate, a margin that overturns a
veto by the governor.

Klarides said the state will be able to close the massive deficit with less than a 1 percent increase in taxes and fees. The bulk of the tax hikes are on cigarette sales and the hospital taxes that will be refunded by the federal government once the state completes its application to the federal agency that administers Medicaid and Medicare.

The budget features a variety of spending constraints:

 An annual bonding cap of $1.9 billion in borrowing, a half billion less than what Connecticut put on its credit card last year;

 A revenue cap that prevents the state from spending all the money it expects to take in annually. Somehow we always seem to fall short of revenue projections;

 A volatility cap that will automatically send any excess revenue to the Budget Reserve Fund.

Current law allows state employee union contracts to go into effect without a vote by the legislature. In a huge concession reached during negotiations with Democratic leaders, votes by the House and Senate will be required before a contract can become law.

Klarides Says Approval of GOP Budget Signals New Direction for Connecticut

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Sep 162017
 

Following the stunning bipartisan vote that passed the Republican budget by a 78-72 margin at 1:44 a.m., today, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides hailed the passage of the bipartisan package in the House and urged Gov. Malloy to reconsider his threatened veto
and sign the bill to avert massive cuts Democrats will inflict on Connecticut schools on Oct. 1, absent a two-year tax and spending plan.

“This is the first step toward getting the state back on the sane fiscal footing and putting Connecticut back on the road to solvency,’’ Klarides said. “We owe it to the state of Connecticut to act, and have the Governor sign this bipartisan legislation,’’ Klarides said.

The Republican budget does not raise taxes, restores funding for schools and towns and protects municipal aid. Klarides praised the five Democrats who joined the GOP to produce the bipartisan solution.

Three Democratic Senators voted for the Republican plan earlier in the day to pass it 21-15. The

The House then voted 78-72 to approve the budget. It also restores deep cuts for social services.

The Republican plan includes no new taxes, restores education funding and preserves municipal aid.

“It took months to get to this point, and despite the time needed to get this point by the
legislature, we have reached another level. Now we wait for the Governor,’’ Klarides said.

House Republicans to Offer Their Own Temporary 30-Day Budget to Keep State Running

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Jun 302017
 

House Republicans today moved to settle the budget stalemate by coming up with a revised temporary, 30-day budget to head off the looming fiscal crisis that protects vital social services programs, summer youth jobs, hospitals and restores middle-class tax credits for property owners.

The so-called mini budget proposed by Gov. Malloy was not acceptable to House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said and included major policy changes that had nothing to do with keeping the state running temporarily.

“If the Governor and the Democrats are serious about avoiding the pain and devastation that would be inflicted by running the state through executive order beginning this weekend, they will support our efforts to craft a compromise,’’ Klarides said. “House Republicans have put forth three separate budget proposals this spring and summer and now we have come up with a stop-gap measure because we had to protect those most at risk. We can act on this now and avoid the chaos that lies ahead if we don’t have a full budget.’’

The House Republican amended version restores funding for the summer youth programs and eliminates the proposed tax penalties that Gov. Malloy wanted to impose on hospitals. It also restores the $200 property tax credit for homeowners that would be lost under the Democratic plan.

Klarides said the mini-budget would only last for 30 days under the Republican plan, unlike Gov. Malloy’s which covers the first quarter of the fiscal year. In addition, the Republicans roll back scheduled raises for state judges that will take effect July absent any legislative action. The raises the amount to $1.4 million and the added money would increase pensions for any retiring judges.

“The idea that the state would be handing out pay raises to judges when we are in fiscal crisis and when teenagers across the state will lose their summer jobs is not acceptable. It is time for the Democrats to come forward with a plan and not abdicate their jobs. Do the jobs you were sent to Hartford for in the first place,’’ Klarides said.

 

Malloy has said he would not accept changes to his temporary plan and that it would expire at midnight on Friday. Klarides will approach rank-and- file Democrats and members of the Senate to support the House Republican plan in an effort to avoid the draconian cuts to services that Gov. Malloy has repeatedly warned will automatically take place if there is no budget agreement by Friday.

“We are running out of time and the Democrats are out of ideas. I urge them to do the responsible thing and act in the best interests of the State of Connecticut,’’ Klarides said.

Klarides On The Most Recent Budget Projections

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Apr 042017
 

The comptroller’s latest budget projections released today point to worsening news for Connecticut and could likely result in a year-end deficit, an outcome rejected by the Malloy administration, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said.

“Two of the three budget forecasters, the Office of Fiscal Analysis and Comptroller Lembo, are nearly identical in their projections at around a $45 million deficit for the current fiscal year. The Governor says we have a $22 million surplus. Someone is wrong,’’ Klarides said. “It is an ominous sign as we get into the real mechanics of putting together a budget for the next two years.’’

Klarides noted that the comptroller cited an erosion of income tax receipts as the chief reason for the apparent deficit. “It is always dangerous to bank on a really strong April for income tax receipts to bail out the state,’’ Klarides said. She added that she hopes Gov. Malloy turns out to be right in this matter.

House Republicans Welcome Fundraising Transparency, Must Limit PACS

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Mar 292017
 

Responding to claims that Democrats want to reform campaign finance laws, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today welcomed greater transparency laws, but said the GOP proposal to crack down on individual political action committees would clean up the system that has been gradually subverted since reforms were put in place.

Klarides said that the Democratic approach ignores the intent of those reforms as the individual PACs run by rank and file lawmakers pump more money into campaigns and get around earlier restrictions. She referenced recent testimony from GOP State Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton to the Government Administration and Elections Committee that explains how the system is being subverted.

“The PACs were supposed to be limited to leadership and each caucus. We have seen in the last election cycle that more and more sitting members have created their own PACs in order to funnel more money into their colleagues campaigns in contested races,’’ Klarides said. “We welcome any efforts to make the system more transparent, but the Democratic proposal does not address these glaring issues.’’

Republicans have proposed restrictions on PACs that would ban contributions as described by Perillo in his testimony.

Democrats today proposed limiting outside independent contributions and requiring organizations or unions to approve of those donations – the so-called “dark money’’ donations.

“There should be greater disclosure throughout the campaign finance system;’’ Klarides said. “But the funneling of money raised right here at home into targeted races that have already received maximum contributions under the law is an obvious attempt to get around the intent of the reforms.’’

What Should The Punishment Be For Hate Crimes?

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Mar 182017
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides this week reacted to the proposed increase in penalties for hate crimes.

No hate crime or attack on any person, target or symbol that has been singled out for their individual characteristics or beliefs should be punished to the fullest extent of the law – the penalties must be severe in order to deter future incidents,” Klarides said. “However, one of the categories that should be covered must also include law enforcement personnel who have also been targets of violence and aggression.”

“Police and first-responders have been noticeably excluded from this proposal but are covered in separate legislation that we will also pursue this session,’’ Klarides said. 

Do You Miss Your WFSB 3? Themis Klarides Seeking A Resolution

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Jan 272017
 

 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today urged Altice and WFSB/Meredith to resolve their dispute over fees that has kept the state’s CBS affiliates off the air and consumers in the dark.

Klarides said that she has received complaints and questions from constituents who are angry that they continue to pay the same fees for programming but have had their service diminished since Optimum, Altice’s corporate parent, removed channels 2 (WCBS) and 3 (WFSB) from their lineup.

“Unfortunately the dispute continues between the two entities and customers suffer while they argue over broadcast rights fees,’’ Klarides said. “I would urge the companies to come to some equitable agreement and to do it soon.’’

The blackout has lasted since Jan. 13.WFSB refused to make the recent AFC Championship football game between the New England Patriots and Pittsburg Steelers available, further angering customers.

Klarides said that there was little that can be done a state level because they are private entities that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Altice USA claims that WFSB/Meredith is demanding exorbitantly high fees, a charge that the company denies.

“I think it is incumbent upon the FCC to get involved as this stalemate has already lasted two weeks. It is the federal regulators’ job to settle this to avoid a prolonged dispute,’’ Klarides said

Klarides Addresses Consensus Revenue Figures

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Jan 182017
 

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides issued the following statement on the latest Consensus Revenue Figures:

“Connecticut will continue to struggle to meet its financial obligations in the two years ahead. Today’s consensus figures underscore the very issues highlighted by the ratings agencies that have taken a dim view of Connecticut’s fiscal outlook: the volatile nature of our revenue streams. This will continue to hamstring our ability to erase perpetual deficits absent meaningful structural changes on the spending side.