Monday, February 01, 2010

I, Donovan

A Hartford Courant castoff, Mark Pazniokas, went out and got a real job after he had lost his position on the paper. Mr. Pazniokas now writes for a news site called ctmirror, which has just filed a stunning story, “Connecticut in the red on retiree pensions, benefits.”

The story includes a pie in the eye chart illustrating Connecticut’s unfunded liability debt, a massive $57.8 billion.




Such enormous debt is not likely figure in the calculations of Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, though the figure weighs heavily on the minds of some grown up Democrats.

"Our kids and our grandkids are the ones going to be paying for this," said state comptroller Nancy S. Wyman.

The state’s present $18.6 billion budget devotes one of every five dollars to pension contributions, health care funding for retirees and long term debt payments for schools and capital projects.

Wyman says, “"It's not sustainable."

The Waterbury Republican America, a sane whisper in the whirlwind, offered some painful solutions to Connecticut’s long term debt:

“Further union concessions — real ones, this time — and agency consolidations would help, but further 'revenue enhancements' would exacerbate Connecticut’s fiscal and economic crises. Binding-arbitration reform would provide needed long-term relief, but what’s really needed is tough love: privatize some government functions; close non-essential services and offices; eliminate sinecures and patronage jobs; suspend collective bargaining and rewrite labor contracts to bring salaries, benefits and retirement costs under control and into line with the private sector; shelve all those fanciful mass-transit projects; stop all borrowing unrelated to existing debt; relax regulatory restrictions that are choking the economy. And yes, cut taxes to get the economy going.”
Donovan, once a union leader, is concerned with more immediate problems – which, come to think of it, IS the problem: The legislature’s view of the future is tragically foreshortened. The boys and girls in Connecticut’s legislature, led by the indomitable Dovonan, appear to have adopted as their chief working proposition Mark Twain’s adage, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

After increasing both income taxes and the sort of nuisance taxes the income tax was supposed to replace, having spent all of the $1.4 billion in the rainy day fund and about $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds, Donovan intends to close a $500 million fiscal deficit carried over from last year by – one would never guess -- postponing $76 million in cuts in estate tax cuts that he and other Democrats voted for.

And if the math is still out of balance, never you mind: Better times are a’coming.

Donovan is confident, a Hartford paper reports, that the economy is on the mend. And when the stock market rebounds, all those rich folk in what used to be called Connecticut's Gold Coast, now a rust belt for millionaires, once again will begin to pour millions into Donovan’s tin cup.

The optimistic Donovan says, “We can close it. I'm confident in closing that hole.''

All we have to do is to wait for the rising tide to lift Connecticut’s boats, which is what John Kennedy said would happen if Washington cut taxes.

But the Beltway redistributionists, having raised spending, will soon raise taxes and inflate the money supply to stuff depreciated dollars into their own multi-trillion deficit black hole, at which point all dollars, including those held by millionaires in Connecticut’s Gold Coast, will lose value, assuming the millionaires have not by that time moved off shore to Hong Kong, where regulations and taxes are less punishing than they are under Donovan’s regime.

It took Connecticut ten years to recover the jobs it had lost during the last recession. But the economic terra firma already has changed since those halcyon days. The magical money tree whose leaves dreamers use to pluck to pay for their improvident spending now has been replaced by an even more majical jobs tree. Illusion follows illusion, and under the Donovan Plan – cut nothing, tax everything -- recovering from this anemic economy may take some of us a lifetime.
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