Thursday, July 31, 2003
Westport State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard Votes for Budget
Westports State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was among legislators Wednesday night who voted to approve a two-year $27.5 billion budget after weeks of wrangling.
The budget plan passed on a mostly Democratic vote of 87-56 and was sent to the Senate, which was expected to take up the bill today.
Both Republicans and Democrats seemed to dislike the package - reached five weeks into the new fiscal year.
Debate lasted only 35 minutes and only five representatives spoke. Sixty-three Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for the bill.
Bernhard, a Republican, told WestportNow today: ғDespite some reservations about the tax proposals, I voted for the budget package because the people, businesses, and municipal agencies that depend upon state revenues need to have financial certainty going forward.”
The budget would cut the State Administered General Assistance cash program for the poor by $6 million. It would also reduce AIDS services by 9.5 percent and needle exchange programs by 5 percent.
The proposal would cut general aid to cities and towns by $30 million and reduce the maximum property tax credit against the income tax from $500 to $350. It also would eliminate the $100 property tax credit available to higher income taxpayers..
Setting a budget is the single most important function of the legislature and we were already four weeks overdue,” Bernhard said. “At least for the first year, the budget we passed is not only responsible but opens the door to the serious restructuring of state government.
“For my constituents, if we didn’t resolve the budget now, it would only have gotten worse and more expensive. Many of the taxing proposals, including a higher income tax, a higher sales tax, and a higher real estate conveyance tax, were successfully defeated.”
State Rep. Cathy C. Tymniak, a Republican whose district includes a small portion of Westport in the Green’s Farms area but mostly Fairfield, voted against the budget.