Five Things To Know About the Budget Implementer: Retirement For All, Yard Goats, Diapers and More General Assembly

Five Things To Know About the Budget Implementer: Retirement For All, Yard Goats, Diapers and More General Assembly

Hartford Courant, May 12, 2016

By Peter Casolino

The budget implementer bill was released just hours before the Senate was set to meet and vote on the budget Thursday. The legislation approved by the General Assembly Thursday evening outlines the nuts and bolts that are required to make the $19.76 billion budget work. While the budget itself is a series of dollar amounts allocated to different departments, the implementer explains in detail how a particular program – economic development, taxes, Medicaid rates, etc. -- should be established.

Here's a look at some of those measures outlined in the bill: Retirement For All Prompted by a veto threat by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the implementer includes a new plan to create a retirement savings program for private sector workers whose employer does not offer a pension or 401(k) plan. Although a bill to create the program passed the Senate and House, Malloy said he would not sign it if the changes were not made.

Under the new proposal, a quasi-public, 15-member board known as the Connecticut Retirement Security Authority would be created. As passed, the bill would have given the authority to hire a single vendor to manage the retirement fund, but the new wording allows the authority to select multiple vendors. Malloy also had various other technical concerns involving the makeup of the authority, which appeared to be addressed.

Dunkin' Ballpark Exemption Events at the new Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford would be exempt from the state's 10 percent admission tax, effective as soon as the bill is signed. Athletic events at New Britain Stadium, such as the Bees minor league baseball games, would also be exempt from the tax, starting next July.

Communities could assess a surcharge of up to 5 percent of the admission charge; in the case of events held at Dunkin' Donuts Park, the city of Hartford could impose a surcharge of up to 10 percent and then use that money to pay off the bonds to build the stadium.

While pads and diapers used by incontinent adults are tax-exempt, tampons, pads and diapers for babies are not. The implementer would remove the sales tax from feminine hygiene products and disposable or reusable diapers beginning in July 2018. There has been a push for the tax exemption during the past few years. Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said in March that the tax raises serious questions about equity. The tax on feminine hygiene products generates about $3.6 million for the state annually; diapers bring in $4.2 million.

Reduced Education Funding back to top

Reducing Education Funding -- The budget deal agreed upon by Malloy and Democratic lawmakers would result in many school districts receiving less state financial aid than they expected.

Under the implementer proposal, any city or town that experiences a cut in state education aid can reduce its budgeted appropriation for schools spending by "an amount equal to the aid reduction." Under current law, municipalities cannot decrease education spending from the previous year.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities suggested the change earlier this week, stating that municipal officials need more flexibility, especially in cities and towns where student enrollment is declining. State Park Sales Tax Eliminated

The budget scraps a controversial sales tax on parking fees at all state parks, including Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. The tax, which if passed will have lasted only a year, was approved last June due to an oversight.

The sales tax passed in last year's implementation bill when lawmakers carved out an exemption for employer-based parking, but not parking fees subject to the sales tax.