Connecticut Democrat political leaders are despicable. They control both the Senate and House in our General Assembly, and they have not yet produced a budget. They are letting Gov. Dannel Malloy rule the roost as they bicker among themselves. The only item they agreed on was cutting the unions a sweetheart deal as reward for helping them get elected and stay in power.
More and more millionaires have come out and declared that they want to pay their fair share. Now, that message is just starting to percolate at the Capitol. We’re seeing the realization set in: Asking wealthy residents to step up and pay their fair share isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the necessary thing to do.
I have been following the state’s budget crisis with a lot of interest, because I’m a state resident and taxpayer and I believe in getting something of value for the taxes that I pay. The current stalemate in the budget process in Hartford is wholly inexcusable. In thinking about this problem, I believe I have a solution which most voters would heartily approve.
I’ve got some bad news. My prognosis for budget negotiations is fairly dire. It is not because the legislature is lazy, or because of political posturing. It is because we do not agree on the problem. Of our tentative $2.6 billion budget deficit, over half is a result of past lawmakers abdicating their responsibility of fully funding the pension obligations. The remainder comes from anticipating significantly more revenue from the income tax than we actually received. While, many of my peers are determining ways to punish the middle class and our state workers, I would like to direct our attention to the wealthy. The ones who have direct access to politicians. Who pay half or less, as a percentage of income, than what the rest of us pay. This, while the top 1 percent of Connecticut income earners obtained 84 percent of the income gains over the last few decades, while the rest of our wages stagnate or decline.
Whether viewed through the lenses of wealth, District Reference Groups, or student achievement, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s recently announced distribution of Education Cost Sharing grant money has obvious flaws and inconsistencies that defy logic and lead one to the conclusion that this is just an extension of the arbitrary and capricious administration of the program that has plagued it in the past.
Some of my otherwise sane fiscally-conservative friends like the idea of tolls, arguing that they have to pay them in other states while citizens from these states get a free ride in Connecticut. This makes no sense. Just because other states are ripping you off, why do you want to be ripped off in your home state too? These same friends also believe the money coming in from the tolls will repair our roads and bridges because the politicians will put the receipts in a “lock box” and only use the money for infrastructure repair. If you believe this, I will gladly sell you the Statue of Liberty for a mere $1,000.
The CT Mirror’s August 14 report on “The state of CT’s cities and towns in charts” is a detailed, reasoned analysis, consistent with the high quality of work we expect from the CT Mirror. Yet, one of the essential parts of the Mirror’s report — its analysis of municipal fund balances — falls short of presenting the most accurate and clearest understanding of this critical component of municipal finances.
The $5 billion deficit that had opened up for the biennial fiscal year starting July 1 continues to haunt the state government and the people of Connecticut. Republicans proposed to close the budget gap largely on the basis of a restructuring of bloated public sector pay and benefits. Gov. Dannel Malloy wanted none of this. He also did not accept the contention that most of the “concessions” the state received from its unions did not require any “deal” and could have been achieved unilaterally. Significant adjustments to the catalog of the outsized benefits of our government employees are set in statute and could have been addressed legislatively.
It is so incredibly difficult to accentuate the positive in Connecticut. Doing so is akin to swimming upstream, climbing uphill, and skiing through a revolving door – combined. In fact, when there is positive evidence staring us in the face, our Nutmeg reflexes kick in automatically. We shut our eyes, the better not to see the hopeful signs or indicators of progress.
Before Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program, unions or corporations could donate as much as they wanted directly to candidates, and expect favors in return. Some current legislators are proposing the program’s elimination as a way to save money during the current budget negotiations. Fully funding the CEP is crucial to Connecticut’s ability to transcend the days of “Corrupticut.”
Connecticut is not getting the message sent by General Electric, Aetna and other corporations who have either left the state for greener pastures or are contemplating a move. GE pulled up stakes and relocated its corporate facilities from Fairfield to Boston, where it felt there was a far more robust “innovation pipeline,” a greater talent pool and stronger incubation opportunities. Aetna is also moving its corporate office, a bastion in Hartford for more than a century, to seek better opportunities in Manhattan.
In light of these losses, you would think we would be doing everything in our power to convince companies that Connecticut has the talent to support the needs of its employers by prioritizing funding for higher education and financial aid.
Our Connecticut State Legislature was faced with a truly historic choice; either dig our state out of a $5 billion biennial fiscal abyss responsibly or, once again, allow the state unions to reap asymmetrical benefits that significantly exceed both the private sector workforce and state employees from any other state in the country. The legislature chose the latter, and one of the most critical opportunities to change our state’s fiscal trajectory was squandered with the renegotiation of our state union workers contract.