Connecticut is poised for a serious debate over the size and role of its future government as it prepares for a new legislative session in February and a new business-led economic commission due to issue its report on March 1. How should the state view the options during this historic debate? Connecticut has assets most states can only dream about: an enviable location; a highly skilled workforce; world-renowned educational, medical and cultural institutions; a diversified economy; and an attractive quality of life. Yet, we are inundated with a bleak one-dimensional narrative of failure, job loss and stagnation.
This week it was announced that Gov. Malloy, along with Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy, is joining a lawsuit challenging the new federal tax laws that put restrictions on state and local tax deductions. Malloy argues the new tax laws discriminate against mostly blue states that voted against President Trump. However, what has these Democrats quite obviously excited is a cut to tax deductions unearths how poor these states’ budgets and taxes are.
As the daughter of an immigrant who raised his two daughters to believe that this is the greatest country in the world, I have always been proud of what our country stands for. That’s why when the call came asking if I would attend this week’s State of the Union Address, I felt an odd mix of excitement and sadness. Excitement to be a part of an American tradition taking place in the history-ladened halls of our national Capitol; sadness because I knew why I was being singled out for this honor and opportunity. I am the CEO of Fair Haven Community Health Care, a community health center in New Haven, which provides care to over 18,000 low-income residents of our community. Community health centers in the U.S. are currently under siege, due to the chaotic bipartisan bickering that has come to be the hallmark of my beloved government. Congresswoman DeLauro’s choice for her guest is one way she can shine a spotlight on the plight of Community Health Centers.
January 26 is this year’s Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day. Awareness is important to the success of this program, for both the families and the communities it serves. As a tax attorney and Connecticut’s representative to the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, I want to share information about the importance of the EITC.
The likelihood of Hartford, the lynchpin of this region, snatching victory from the jaws of near-bankruptcy is too-often viewed skeptically, even as adjacent suburban communities gain notice as up-and-coming places to be. Evidence suggests that our habitual reactions are selling the region, and the city, short. Urban communities and the suburbs that surround them can thrive together. In fact, that may be the only way for either – or both – to sustain and spread economic progress.
If anything, the recent Supreme Court decision clears the deck of subjective educational arguments and leaves only the issue of local taxation as a questionable aspect of Education Cost Sharing. It places full onus on the legislature to arrive at an ECS distribution system IMMEDIATELY that treats all Connecticut towns and taxpayers equitably. It cannot wait ten years and be dependent on $400 million of unlikely new revenue as does the current legislative plan.
Legislators and the voting public have consistently been persuaded by a false premise that if we reduce our tax rates on the wealthy and large corporations, our economy will improve. The rationale goes: By decreasing taxes on these two groups, our gross domestic product will increase due to investment in research and development, bolstered business infrastructure, new job opportunities, better pay and improved business climate which welcomes capital. This flawed ideology, touted by Arthur Laffer in his book “The Laffer Curve,” rests on theories that don’t stand up to any level of scrutiny.
States all over the country are grappling with ever-increasing unfunded pension liabilities. My home state of Connecticut trails such pension liability behemoths like Illinois and New Jersey, but still ranks high on the danger list. In June 2010 the Connecticut public pension fund had $9.3 billion in assets but its actuaries calculated that the state still needed an additional $21.1 billion to meet all its pension obligations. It was only 44 percent funded.
The bill [to rescue the Medicare Savings Program] before the General Assembly on Monday is a far cry from fiscal responsibility. Despite a growing deficit, and a projected deficit for fiscal year 2019, based on the plan expected to be put before the legislature, the General Assembly appears content to avoid making tough decisions about how to deal with the $224 million deficit gorilla in the Capitol and instead has decided to just keep feeding it.
It appears the state legislature has preserved the largest single source of state support to municipalities, Education Cost Sharing Grants. There are, however, some devilish details that should be noted. First, because of cuts and authorized holdbacks, all but 30 Alliance towns begin 2018 with 12.95 percent less than 2017.
We are now officially a Kleptocracy (from Greek κλέπτης kléptēs, “thief”, κλέπτω kléptō, “I steal”, and -κρατία -kratía from κράτος krátos, “power, rule”): A government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources in order to extend their personal wealth and political power on behalf of the elite. It is systematic, state-sanctioned corruption just like Putin and Russia’s oligarchs; a criminal racket instead of a legitimate provider of public services.
Republicans in Congress are about to pass the Trump tax bill, which hammers Connecticut. Our state is already getting cheated by the federal government, sending over $2,700 per resident to Washington more than we receive back. The Trump tax bill adds another $800 net loss per resident, money sent to D.C. which we never see again. We are in a hole; stop digging.