Sunday, November 16, 2008

Web site now lets you view public's budget suggestions

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that her new interactive state budget Web site has drawn hundreds of responses from taxpayers who weigh in daily with online suggestions for saving money and making state government more efficient.

"The public is speaking loud and clear on how to best use taxpayer money," Governor Rell said. "We developed this Web site to not only give residents a clear understanding of what we are facing in this economy but also to give them a chance to be part of the solution."

The interactive budget Web site, launched October 27, allows taxpayers to review the entire two-year state budget. The site can be accessed by clicking on the "Budget Forum" link in the Governor's Web site at:

The Web site includes links to budgets of specific agencies and aid to cities and towns. There is also a link that provides the latest updates to the state's economy, including Governor Rell's stark announcement earlier this week that the projected deficit has ballooned to $6 billion for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

A new link added this week titled "View Suggestions" lets the public view many of the taxpayer suggestions. "We have heard from every corner of the state and there is certainly no lack of creativity," Governor Rell said. "Most importantly, there are some sensible ideas that merit consideration." Many of the suggestions focused on the use of a smaller, more efficient state fleet and a reduction or outright ban on personal use of state vehicles. Others have suggested privatizing certain services, such as transit districts, or cutting state employee hours to 35 a week. Other suggestions currently posted on the Web site are:

* Sell beer and wine in grocery stores and on Sunday and double the tax on Sunday sales

* Standardize the state's printing and publication process

* Take a full accounting of all state property and sell the excess

* Ban all-night legislative sessions - conduct business during working hours

* State employees should contribute more to their health insurance

* Light every other street light and outfit them with sensors

* Reduce highway mowing

* Have towns plow state roads in their jurisdiction

* Bring back tolls

* Use synthetic oil in state fleet and push out timeframe for oil changes

* Too many "commissions"

* Eliminate pay raises for a year - act like a private business that could go bankrupt

"The unstable national economy is hitting home - and hard. It is no longer a matter of whether to cut the size of government but rather how deep. My office, our commissioners and state lawmakers have some very hard choices ahead of us to make sure the state lives within its means over the next several months and, even years," Governor Rell said. "This Web site will help keep the public informed of our progress and perhaps generate common sense solutions from the very taxpayers we serve. Connecticut's richest resource has and always will be its people."



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