TYhe House Democrats’ proposed school funding plan is not a legitimate attempt at a logical or responsible school funding formula. It falls far short of creating the “rational, substantial and verifiable” school finance system that Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher called for in his September 2016 ruling in CCJEF v. Rell.
Every family who lives in Bob Duff’s district and every business operating in Fairfield County needs to be aware of what their elected State Senator just did to threaten their livelihoods last week. The labor contract agreement that just passed and will now become law is another in a long line of sweetheart deals with unions negotiated by Gov. Dannel Malloy that has prolonged the fiscal crisis and created the poor economic climate our families and businesses suffer in every day.
Connecticut families and businesses need to understand the state union agreement the legislature has just approved and what it means for them. While one union leader called it “the best and longest public-sector pension and healthcare contract in the country,” its far-reaching budgetary consequences will likely not draw such enthusiasm from Connecticut taxpayers.
There is a shortage of good ideas at the Capitol this summer as lawmakers try to put together a budget for Connecticut, but there is no shortage of bad ideas. One of those bad ideas is a plan to allow cities and towns to levy a new tax on restaurant meals as a means to increase tax revenues to municipalities. There is no rhyme or reason to this concept, it is just another random scheme to help lawmakers pay for the promises they have made in the past to get themselves elected.
As Connecticut senators vote on a labor “concessions” deal, the irony is that even greater savings can be achieved without any deal at all. Gov. Dannel Malloy claims to have extracted $715 million in wage savings over two years through a “wage freeze.” Yet, without any deal, he could achieve $770 million in wage savings. The simple truth is that wages can only be raised by contract. No contract, no raises.
I woke up recently to the headline that the governor of Nevada had signed into law the Nevada Promise Scholarship which would provide tuition-free community college to eligible students. Thus Nevada joins Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee in providing increased access to higher education for low income students through a robust community college system. Connecticut has taken the opposite route. Instead of looking at ways to increase access, the solution that is being proposed is dismantling the community college system by centralizing and creating a hierarchy with one president overseeing 12 colleges.
Summer jobs for teenagers have been canceled, state college and university charges keep rising, and every area of public life is affected by the state’s budget crisis — all in the second wealthiest state in the country, with the second highest level of inequality. Connecticut’s budget shortfall is projected at about $2 billion per year. Yet, the wealthiest residents face a lower effective tax rate than the rest of us, and hundreds of millions are lost every year through corporate loopholes, special exemptions, legal tax avoidance, and outright tax evasion. If the wealthiest households paid at the same rate as the rest of us, more than $2 billion per year would be raised, erasing the deficit!
Let me start by stating the obvious: Our state’s budget process is broken. We live in a time of perpetual fiscal stress, and have been unable to deal with structural issues that face the state. Our existing budget framework is just not up to the job. We need to scrap our balkanized budget process and adopt a new approach that sets top policy goals and funds them within available revenues.
In a June 19, 2017 press release, Sens. Len Fasano and Kevin Kelly decried the partisan nature of Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy’s recent hearings on health care. Fasano and Kelly called for a bipartisan forum that includes insurance and healthcare professionals. Appropriate as that would be, the press release itself was a highly partisan statement that undercut the call for bipartisanship.
Let’s start with the harsh reality: beginning the new fiscal year without a state budget will result in human services agencies across Connecticut cutting services and closing doors. Yet since January, leaders of community nonprofits have offered a way to save $300 million over the biennium while re-investing that savings to people in need, by shifting more services from more expensive state government agencies into the nonprofit sector.