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Cities and towns: don’t burden us with unfunded mandates

Cities and towns: don’t burden us with unfunded mandates

CT Post, March 2, 2016

By Ken Dixon

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities’ “Day on the Hill” brought dozens of local leaders from throughout the state to schmooze and lobby lawmakers for continued state aid and a reduced the burden of unfunded spending mandates.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, CCM chairman, asked state lawmakers to make it easier, not harder for towns and cities to run local government. “We really, really want to just send a message that every time some new idea pops out of the dome, it creates all kinds of unintended consequences in our cities and towns,”

Boughton said, targeting a bill last year that by 2018, would penalize municipalities that don’t adhere to a spending cap. “Nobody can explain to you how it’s supposed to be implemented. There are many people, including some legislators that weren’t even aware that it had made it into the final bill” last year, Boughton said.

Boughton, during a morning news conference in the Capitol, joined other CCM members in asking the General Assembly to gets its own financial affairs in order. Recent shortfalls in revenue have increased the current operating deficit in the budget that runs through June 30, by $266 million. “Do what we do every day: balance our books, make sure that critical core services are delivered to our residents and that we’re able to provide a quality life at home we can be proud of.”

Senator Osten, First Selectman Osten back to top

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who happens to be the first selectman of her hometown, said the local spending cap would only impact a small amount of state aid for towns and cities that don’t adhere to a spending cap.

She expects the Legislature this session to clarify last year’s bill. Osten, who’s co-chairman of the legislative Labor and Public Employees Committee, is promoting a bill that would give first responders Workers’ Compensation benefits for job-related post traumatic stress. She admitted there is “philosophical disagreement” on the legislation, which would force towns and cities to pick up mental health care costs for first responders who witness the aftermath of death and violence.

“My goal on Workers’ Compensation” is to get workers back to the job healthy,” Osten told reporters. Last year the legislation passed the Senate, but died on the House calendar, despite lobbying from police and firefighters from throughout the state, including first responders from Newtown, who witnessed the aftermath of the December, 2012 Sandy Hook School shootings.

Boughton said that the organization’s diversity results from the fact that nearly all towns and cities are members.