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AARP Connecticut Encouraged by Aspects of Governor Lamont Biennial Budget Proposal

Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut

AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan provided the following statement in response to the biennial budget Governor Lamont proposed today:

Connecticut needs a biennial budget that addresses the pocketbook issues many residents are facing due to skyrocketing health care and energy costs in combination with record inflation. The proposal that Governor Lamont unveiled today hits the mark in many important regards. AARP Connecticut is committed to working with Governor Lamont, the Legislature, and in State Regulatory Proceedings to make Connecticut a more affordable place to live for low, moderate- and middle-income residents age 50+, while also protecting and improving critical services.

Governor Lamont’s budget proposal places a strong emphasis on protecting patients and reigning in unsustainable health care cost growth. His plans to increase transparency for pharmaceutical manufacturers and to join an interstate consortium to purchase prescription drugs at a discounted rate will help lower medication prices for consumers. We applaud these proposals and hope the legislature will consider additional measures to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable for the high cost of their prescription medications.

We also support the Governor’s inclusion of important investments to support older adults and people with disabilities who wish to remain in their homes, such as additional funding for the new Community Ombudsman for Home Care Program and creating an agency-based option for self-directed care under the Community First Choice Program. In addition, the budget proposal includes continued support for critical safety-net programs like the Medicare Savings Program, which pays Medicare Part B premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance; and the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, which helps older adults remain in the community when they are at risk of institutionalization. While AARP Connecticut strongly supports these pieces of the proposed budget, we were hoping to see additional plans related to improving the quality of long-term care for individuals who reside in nursing homes, and we call upon legislators to make funding transparency and staffing levels a priority as the session continues.

The historic income tax reductions proposed by Governor Lamont are encouraging, yet they do not include a fix for the existing “benefit cliff” for retirement income tax exemptions. Under current law, older adults become ineligible for the tax exemption on retirement income if they earn even one penny of income over the cutoff (currently $75,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a married couple) in any given year and can face a significantly higher tax liability than their gain in income. AARP is encouraged by a bi-partisan Legislative effort to change existing tax law so that an additional penny of income does not result in losing thousands of dollars in exemptions. Retirees, and those approaching retirement, make up 39% of the Connecticut’s population, yet their total economic contribution to the Gross State Product is 44%. Connecticut should embrace tax policies, such as eliminating the benefit cliff on retirement income tax exemptions, that keep incentivize older adults to remain in Connecticut and age in place after retirement.  

As policy makers struggle with addressing the high cost of energy and energy supply issues, we are lucky to have had a warmer than normal winter. AARP Connecticut urges Governor Lamont and Legislators to make reforms in the generation market to lower the cost of standard electric service offered by the state’s two electric distribution companies and avoid undoing any consumer protections in the third-party electric supply market. We also call on lawmakers to increase funding and expand eligibility for energy assistance programs above the current levels to meet the needs of residents already coping with the dynamics making it so difficult to support households, especially fixed income households, and pay for basic needs.

See AARP’s 2023 Legislative Priorities: AARP Connecticut Outlines Priorities for 2023 State Legislative Session

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