Towns and cities throughout Connecticut have been at high anxiety for months awaiting the outcome of the endless budget discussions in Hartford. The many and varied proposals have succeeded in making us feel like balls in a pinball machine – bouncing from one proposal to another and without enough time to understand their impacts on our communities.
Connecticut residents have grown weary of budgets that both cut services and increase taxes — understandably so. It’s time to bring the oppressive cycle of tax increases, followed by revenue shortfalls, service cuts, and yet more tax increases to an end. But it can only happen if there are structural changes to the way our state does business. Connecticut’s leaders — at both the state and local levels — must work together to prune and reshape a legal and regulatory thicket that is choking Connecticut’s growth, and putting the cost of state government on a steep upward trajectory.
A tentative deal has been reached by the Democratic and Republican leadership in Connecticut’s unresolved budget crisis. According to published reports, there will be no concessions by the state workers’ unions, miniscule cuts to the University of Connecticut and a bail out of the bankrupt city of Hartford. In return, teachers will have to pay one percent more of their salary to their pensions, there will be no sales tax increase and the car tax will be eliminated.
As student debt mounts nationally, with the $1.4 trillion in U.S. student loans now surpassing credit card debt, it’s critical to ensure Connecticut parents and students have smart college financing options. A little-known mechanism — tax-exempt Qualified Student Loan Bonds — provides Connecticut families an important pathway to finance their college dreams.
But as Congressional leaders tackle tax reform this fall, that tool could be on the chopping block.
Four years ago, when I was writing a book on the history of antifascism in the United States, I told a colleague at the University of Connecticut what I was working on. “Antifascism?” he said. “Not many people on the other side of that!”
How quaint that comment now seems. At the time, it reflected an unfamiliarity with the term “antifascism” in the United States. To me, the comment was also a healthy affirmation of antifascism’s commonsense ring. But that was before the election of an openly white nationalist President who has gone out of his way to demonize what he calls “ant-e-fuh.” Now, thanks to the Trumpian turn, there are plenty of people on the other side of that.
On awful, gut-churning days such as Monday, I find it important to remind myself that mass shootings happen almost nowhere else but the United States. As we become normalized to the regular pace of massive, execution-style killings — Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando and now Las Vegas — it’s critical to understand that the Groundhog Day phenomenon of horrific mass shootings is exclusive to the United States. I find consolation in this fact, because if the problem is particularly American, then the solution can be, too.
The 2020 Census could be in jeopardy — and it could hit close to home in Connecticut. The right to equal representation for equal numbers of people is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment; though imperfect, this is the basis of our democratic system. The Constitution requires that every ten years, the nation undertakes what is arguably its most essential task: ensuring a fair and valid count of every single one of its now 330 million residents. But for the first time in modern history, a spending limit may hamstring the U.S. Census Bureau, put the accuracy of the count in question and cause a serious — and costly — undercount here.
Our politicians and their corporate overlords, in their infinite chase for money, are trying to perpetrate another scam on the good people of Connecticut – an MGM Resorts International casino in Bridgeport Harbor. They will promise jobs, entertainment and tax revenues. They will bring more traffic, Amtrak delays along with despair, personal bankruptcies, embezzlement, domestic violence and suicides.
The National Institute on Money in State Politics released data on Sept. 26 demonstrating an important issue. The residents of Connecticut whose voices will be lost are why the Citizens’ Election Program must be protected.
When legislators recently passed the anti-worker, anti-family budget, they didn’t just attack workers’ rights, higher education, tax relief for low-income families, teachers, our capital city’s fiscal health, and job training programs. They attacked democracy itself. Their plan eliminates the vital Citizens’ Election Program (CEP), one of Connecticut’s greatest achievements, and our single greatest safeguard against corruption.
Facing a staggering $3.6 billion budget deficit, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Connecticut’s legislature did something almost unheard of these days. They passed a budget. To help close the Constitution State’s deficit, instead of creating new taxes, lawmakers did what regular Americans do every day. They cut wasteful spending. One of the programs that lost funding is the taxpayer-financed campaign program for state politicians. In many ways, this cut is a big win for taxpayers.