Thursday, May 30, 2013

Government Spending Exceeding Constitutional Cap

It seems like yesterday, but two decades have passed since then-Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker signed a state income tax into law.

And while many of us can vividly recall the huge taxpayer rallies which were held at the State Capitol during that time, we may have forgotten that the hated tax hike was tied to a measure which restricted state government spending increases to inflation and personal income increases.

They called it the “Spending Cap” – a cap on the amount of your money our state officials could spend.  It aimed to reassure a nervous public that the tax on our personal income would not become the politicians’ license to spend.

Fast forward to today.

The income tax has not proven to be the cure-all for Connecticut’s budget problems.  In fact, it has proven to be the predecessor to a variety of other tax hikes, including the recent record-setting tax hikes on sales, estates, corporate profits and, yes, the income tax.

Meanwhile, the spending of your money has not been brought under control. Your state government continues to have a penchant for spending whatever revenue becomes available.

This year, there is a move by Democrats in Hartford to change the definition of the “Spending Cap”.  By altering the definition, the majority party would be able to enact future spending increases.  In other words, the “Spending Cap” - one of our only checks on runaway government spending - would be forever altered.

I have a big problem with that idea of handing our elected officials more blank checks to spend even more of your money, and I hope you see why.

Think of a family on a budget.  Let’s say a family has been spending more money than the household is taking in as income.  To get back on track, you agree to abide by a spending allowance of a certain amount each week.  Sure, there are temptations to spend on unnecessary items, but common sense usually prevails and the disciplined approach proves to be the best long term solution.

In the State of Connecticut’s case, changing the definition of the spending cap to suit elected officials’ spending habits would be a terrible mistake.  Our state is broke, yet we continue to borrow, tax and spend your money as if there will be no consequences to the spree.

There of course will be consequences.  They will arrive in the form of higher debt and even more taxes on our children and grandchildren.

The bill to unscrew the spending cap is House Bill 6352. I hope you will join me in opposing the move to give our legislature a license to spend.

CT Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Creates More Problems

Tonight the Connecticut Senate voted to approve allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive an official state driver’s license. Following nearly six hours of debate with minority Republicans expressing numerous concerns of identification security, the measure passed 19-16 with only two Democrats opposing the measure.

Four states currently offer licenses for undocumented immigrants – Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Two of these states have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal their law. According to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has pushed to repeal the law, arguing that it leads to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime, and significant security concerns.

Seven states previously offered licenses for undocumented immigrants but repealed their laws – Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee and California. Two of these states are reconsidering their repeal.

Why have nine states – 82% of the states currently or previously offering licenses for undocumented immigrants – repealing their laws? Sounds like problems to me!

I opposed the bill in Connecticut because the proposal clearly had many weaknesses the majority Democrats refused to address.

One of the major flaws in the bill is requiring a background check that only looks at Connecticut criminal history. Background checks required for the purchase of guns in our state requires a national criminal check yet this proposal only checks in-state criminal records. Why?

Undocumented immigrants have a high likelihood of transiency – meaning they often cross state borders. Why are the Democrats ignoring this fact? Why are law-abiding gun owners who are U.S. citizens held to a thorough national background check while undocumented immigrants in Connecticut need only have a clean record in one state to pass muster and be issued an official government identification document?

Connecticut legislators are not empowered to enact federal immigration laws. Our national illegal immigration problem must be fixed in Washington. Issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is poor public policy and should not be enacted in Connecticut until our federal government fixes our broken immigration system.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tax Freedom Day Comes LAST to CT!

Last year, “Tax Freedom Day” arrived in Connecticut May 5th. 

Tax Freedom Day measures how long Americans work to earn enough money to pay the year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. On May 5, 2012, Connecticut had the dubious distinction of being the last state to achieve “freedom.”

This year, Connecticut has finally attained tax freedom on May 13. Again, we are the last state to be free of taxes for the year. It took us eight more days to accomplish that last place finish.

And your tax freedom could arrive even later in 2014.  Why?

  • The largest gas tax hike in Connecticut history is scheduled to take effect July 1.
  • Taxes on businesses, which were supposed to sunset this year, might not.
  • State aid to cities and towns is being shifted and could result in higher local property taxes.
  • Connecticut could soon approve borrowing hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to pay for ongoing state expenses.  Guess who will be called upon to pay off those maxed-out credit card bills?
Friends, we are heading in the wrong direction.  State spending is out of control, and your taxes are hiked to pay for wasteful government programs.

Have you had enough?

I hope you will stand with me in demanding spending cuts and reductions to our highest-in-the-nation tax burdens.

How can you help?

Call your state legislators.  Call Governor Malloy at 860-566-4840.  If they don’t respond, keep calling them. 

On this “Tax Freedom Day”, we recognize that our freedom is being eroded.
Together, we can reclaim it, but I need you to demand it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Assisted Suicide in CT is a Bad Idea

I stand in firm opposition to House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. This legislation promotes the culture of assisted suicide in Connecticut, and tells citizens that suicide is an acceptable solution to life’s hardships.

I am adamantly opposed to this legislation and any attempts by government to authorize any form of assisted suicide. Suicide is wrong, especially when it is assisted by loved ones or physicians. Humans are given the gift of life. People like me who hold strong convictions in their faith believe that it is not our duty, or within our ability, to control the beginning or end of our life. With this legislation individuals will decide when their lives end, and they will be protected to have their loved ones assist in ending that life. As a faithful Catholic, I do not feel comfortable granting that authority to anyone. Life is the most basic gift of a loving God, to which humans have stewardship, not absolute dominion. No one, including the government, should ever intend to cause their own death or assist in the taking of another’s. I fear that with this legislation we are legitimizing suicide – a very dangerous precedent.

I am very concerned about the negative impacts this legislation would have on some of society’s most vulnerable populations - the elderly and the disabled. I am worried that this legislation will open the door for abuse of the elderly and disabled by allowing those around them to influence their decision to commit suicide for their own gain. This proposal has no safeguard for abuse, and there is a lack of appropriate monitoring of the mental capacity of those who will receive the lethal dose. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing when the lethal dose is administered or if it was done so voluntarily. With a lack of safeguards in place there is no way to know if suicide is what the person truly desired or if it is a priority of those around them.

In states where assisted suicide has been approved suicide rates have increased. Thirteen years after assisted suicide passed in Oregon, the suicide rate was 41% higher than the national average.

I am concerned that the same will happen in Connecticut. The Legislature should not create the culture of death that will surely come with this proposal. As elected officials and public servants we should be fostering a culture that supports those who are fighting death, whether they are elderly or sick. We should encourage them to fight with strength of character and to live the life that they have been blessed to have fully, to the very last breathe. We should not be encouraging them to give up and a way to tamper with their own fate.

I strongly urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose House Bill 6645, An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients.