Highlights of Connecticut budget deal

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Here are highlights of the Democrats’ approximately $19 billion revised budget passed by the Connecticut state Senate early Sunday. The House of Representatives passed it a few hours earlier.

- Relies on the Department of Revenue Services collecting an additional $75 million in back taxes. The agency recently offered a tax amnesty that brought in $190 million. It was originally projected to round up $35 million in unpaid state taxes.

- Repeals the authorization for the state to operate keno as a lottery game. It was originally approved in last year’s two-year budget as a revenue-generator but the game has not yet been implemented.

- Delays from June 1, 2015, to July 1, 2015, the planned reinstatement of the sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear that costs less than $50.

- Reinstates the sales tax exemption, beginning April 1, 2015, on nonprescription drugs and medicines. The change includes items such as cold medications, dietary supplements, laxatives, analgesics, and antacids.

- Exempts from personal income tax a portion of teachers’ income from the state teachers’ retirement system. When calculating gross adjusted income for state taxes, affected teachers can deduct 10 percent of their pension income for the 2015 tax year, 25 percent for the 2016 tax year, and 50 percent for 2017 and subsequent tax years.

- Increases funding for the State Property and Colleges/Hospitals Payment in Lieu of Taxes to municipalities by $20 million.

- Retains a planned $48 million increase in the Education Cost Sharing grant, the largest state grant for local education.

- Includes funding for an additional 1,020 pre-kindergarten slots in the state’s neediest school districts in 2014.

- Earmarks $125.5 million to bring the state’s 17 community colleges and state universities into a single, coordinated system, while making various upgrades and improvements.

- Creates an awareness campaign against the stigma of mental illness and provides training for police officers on how to respond to incidents involving people with mental illness.

- Creates a five-week job readiness program for the state’s long-term unemployed that includes behavioral health services, financial coaching and a subsidized work program. The budget also includes a $600,000 pilot program to provide grants to homeless and housing advocates to hire employment specialist to help veterans re-enter the workforce.

- Includes $6.5 million to re-open the Tax Relief for Elderly and Disabled Renters program, allowing an additional 12,700 seniors to receive a rebate.

- Includes $4 million to help 100 people identified as top priority for placements on the Department of Developmental Disabilities waiting list for residential services. A focus will be on individuals with parents or caregivers 70 years or older.

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