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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered a revised $19 billion budget to the General Assembly on Thursday for consideration this session. The actual figure is approximately $22 billion after taking into account Medicaid spending, which was taken off-budget last year during negotiations. Here are some highlights:
• Includes $11.5 million to provide 1,020 new pre-kindergarten slots in fiscal year 2015, first targeting the state's low-income children. The state's goal is to have universal access to pre-K by the end of 2019.
• Phases in the exemption of a portion of teachers' pensions from the state's income tax, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014. For income year 2014, the exemption would be 25 percent. It would rise to 50 percent the following year.
• Uses part of the projected $500 million surplus from this year to provide a sales and motor fuels tax refund. It would be $55 for eligible individuals with less than $200,000 in income and $110 for eligible joint filers with less than $400,000 in income.
• Uses $100 million of the surplus to make a payment toward the state's pension fund and $272.6 million for the state's Rainy Day Fund. Malloy also proposed legislation requiring future surpluses be deposited in the Rainy Day Fund, spent on reducing long-term liabilities or used for tax relief.
• Exempts non-prescription drugs from the state's sales tax. Malloy's previous budget had eliminated a tax exemption for such medications.
• Extends an angel investor tax credit for two years, providing $3 million each year to early investors who provide cash investments to qualified small businesses engaged in emerging technologies.
• Creates the CHET Baby Scholars Program, which provides a one-time incentive of $100 to families of Connecticut children who open at CHET 529 college savings account by the child's first birthday or within the first year after adoption. Those who make a contribution of $150 within four years will receive a one-time match of $150.
• Gives cities and towns scheduled to implement property revaluation in fiscal year 2015 the option to postpone that implementation for up to two years, providing them time for the real estate market to stabilize.
• Includes $250,000 for an anti-stigma campaign with the goal of promoting an environment where people with serious mental illness should not be ashamed to seek treatment.
• Includes $1.75 million to improve mental health services for underserved populations, including young adults. There is also $2.2 million set aside for 110 Rental Assistance Program vouchers to provide housing and services for people served by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
• Expands eligibility for services to an additional 100 children with significant physical disabilities. This expansion, however, will not eliminate the waiting list for services.
• Includes $10 million for school security measures in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. This is in addition to $21 million already provided to communities.
• Provides an additional $1.5 million for the Department of Transportation to determine what is necessary to reinforce the integrity of the railways and devise a plan for a comprehensive rail infrastructure improvement program.
Source: Office of Policy and Management