Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CT Government Spending Outpaces Taxpayer’s Earnings By 64%

Governor Jodi Rell presented her fourth alternate budget proposal this morning that cuts spending by $520 million, eliminates the inheritance tax, reduces the sales tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent and exempts small and medium-sized businesses from the temporary 10 percent corporate surcharge proposed in her last budget plan and the Democrats’ last plan.

Let’s see how the Democrats respond to this proposal. This Republican suggests we’re still not talking about substantive reform of government operations that will have a lasting impact on future tax policy in Connecticut.

Hidden in the supporting documents for the Governor’s announcement was a comparison of Connecticut state government spending versus the income of state residents. This document is the best argument in favor of spending cuts that I’ve seen in a long time!

Connecticut government spending outpaced our taxpayer resident’s income by 64% since 1987!

Imagine that – Connecticut government spending grew at such a rapid pace in the last 22 years that it far exceeded the growth of income for the resident’s who fund the government with their taxes.

I rest my case. No new taxes. Cut spending. Now!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Politicians Kicking the Can

As a freshman senator, I listened carefully to the “old-timers” in the General Assembly when I arrived in January. A common theme of their advice was listen and do your homework. The unanimous advice was “don’t plan a summer vacation.” I wish I had taken a vacation as nothing substantive happened at the Capitol in June, July or August. Now I have plans for a mid-September getaway…

The budget debate is occurring in the wrong place – the media. No sessions of the General Assembly have debated budget matters this month and the last dysfunctional meetings of the Appropriations and Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committees were held on July 30th with nothing accomplished.

A recent newspaper editorial criticized the governor for wasting gas travelling around the state for ceremonial bill signings. Perhaps the media should focus a bit more on the Democrat’s absurd road show.

Today, Speaker Chris Donovan is claiming with Governor Rell’s budget proposal, “we will see a lot of seniors losing teeth.” Bologna, Mr. Speaker!

Senate President Protempore Donald Williams suggested Governor Rell is a liar. He claims the Democratic supermajority has moved closer to the Governor’s proposed spending cuts but “we need to have her come just a little bit toward us.” Now there’s a classic shell game for you!

Obamabucks are the savior for many state budgets this year but Obama and the Democratic Congress send help with very deep hooks. Stimulus funding for education requires increased spending after the Obamabucks disappear. Stimulus funding for unemployment benefits requires increased benefits for recipients. Enhancements are “nice to have” but Connecticut’s taxpayers must pick up the increased costs when the Obamabucks disappear. Surely Obama can’t keep printing money when the federal deficit is in the stratosphere.

Only 21% of the Obamabucks coming to Connecticut are for infrastructure improvements – the real chance for jobs. The rest of the federal stimulus money is filling cavernous holes in the state budget and sustaining current levels of spending – preserving existing government jobs. This fact raises future deficits in Connecticut when the Obamabucks disappear. This is an example of politicians kicking the can down the road.

Our economy fell off a cliff last year and the federal government raced to the rescue. Obamabucks are a short-term fix with an exploding balloon note due at expiration. Even if the recession is ending next year, our state budget will fall off another cliff because we can’t replace the Obamabucks in 2011 with more taxes – especially if the Democrats in the legislature succeed in passing the largest tax increase in state history this year.

State government cannot survive operating like it does today. The biggest disappointment during my first year as a legislator is the unwillingness of the Democratic supermajority to consider substantive, efficient reforms of government operations. The Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes should’ve met all summer to discuss reorganizing government while the Democratic leaders were on the road warning seniors about losing their teeth.

Connecticut is truly at a crossroads in this budget debate. We must make tough decisions now to prepare for the next cliff we face in two years. If we fail to act responsibly now the decisions in 2011 will be catastrophic to state government operations.

I urge my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle – Let’s not kick the can down the road.