Representative Matt Lesser, representing almost half of Middletown in the state capitol, said that Governor Rell's budget was a reasonable first step, but that the legislative committees have much work to do before returning a reasonable budget for the state. Their work is likely to dramatically change the budget (possibly including municipal aid), in part because Rell used a combination of out-of-date numbers regarding tax revenue and to-be-approved-in-the-future (hopefully) numbers regarding the Federal Stimulus Package. In addition to the Federal Stimulus Package, Rell is using the rainy day fund to balance the budget during the next year, a short term fix that will only postpone future difficulties in balancing the budget. She achieved a budget that is balanced in only the most ephemeral manner. Lesser blasted Rell's budget proposal, saying, "She needs to put forth a budget that is balanced, .... it is not fiscally responsible to ignore the deficit."
Lesser serves on the Education Committee, the Energy and Technology Committee, and the Public Health Committee. He said that the Education Committee is looking at ways that the state could reduce mandates which might increase the cost of education in Middletown, such as delaying the implementation of a requirement that students suspended from school serve their suspensions within the school instead of on the streets.
Some of Rell's budget proposals are likely to impact life in Middletown in ways outside of the direct effects on the municipal funding. For example, in her budget Rell has proposed consolidations of state-funded institutions such as courthouses, schools, and treatment facilities. These consolidations may lead to larger state facilities in Middletown. Lesser is keeping a watchful eye on these parts of the budget proposal, and how they will impact our city.
Information about Representative Lesser's legislative activities, as well as his contact information, is available through his web site, and he told me he would be happy to hear from his Middletown constituents about issues of importance to us.