Highlights of bipartisan budget agreement
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Following are some highlights of the bipartisan state budget agreement up for a vote Wednesday night in the Connecticut Senate:
— Passport to Parks: The plan calls for increasing the biannual registration fee for passenger motor vehicles from $80 to $90. The additional $10 will be set aside to help fund state parks and forests. In return, registered Connecticut passenger vehicles would be allowed to park free at all state parks. Parking fees now vary but can be as high as $13 a day on weekends and holidays.
— Property tax credit: The credit against the personal income tax for local property taxes would be narrowed to two select groups of people. In the budget, only the elderly and taxpayers with dependent children will be able to claim a credit of up to $200.
— Cigarette tax: Under the budget, Connecticut’s cigarette tax would increase by 45 cents in the first year, to a total of $4.35 a pack. That would tie the state of New York’s tax for the highest state cigarette tax in the nation. Other parts of the country have higher overall cigarette taxes once local taxes are included.
— Teacher pensions: Teachers would be required to pay 1 percent more of their income into the state’s teacher retirement fund. They currently pay 6 percent. The compromise maintains a 25 percent personal income tax exemption for teacher retirement pay. It previously was scheduled to increase to 50 percent.
— Retirement taxes: Income from Social Security, certain pensions and annuities would be exempted from the personal income tax. This proposal would take effect in the second year of the two-year budget, costing the state about $16.1 million in lost revenue.
— Uber fee: The budget calls for charging passengers of ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, a 25-cent-per-ride fee. Lawmakers had previously said that proposal was no longer in the budget, but it ultimately found its way into the final version.
— Pay raises: The bill rolls back a 3 percent salary increase that judges and family support magistrates received on July 1. It reinstates the increases on July 1, 2019.
— Crumbling foundations: A framework is created in the budget bill to help owners of residential buildings with concrete foundations that have been damaged by the presence of pyrrhotite, a debilitating iron sulfide mineral. Among other things, the bill creates a new, not-for-profit captive insurance company to help the homeowners repair or replace the foundations. It also establishes a training program for contractors that will perform the work.
— Fantasy sports: The budget would authorize fantasy sports contests once certain conditions are met. The operators would pay the state an initial registration fee of $15,000 and subsequent annual registration fees. They also would pay the state a 10.5 percent tax on their gross receipts.
Source: Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis