Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Budget Reviews Are In

Courant: Bad Deal

The Hartford Courant turned up its collective nose at Connecticut’s budget, a compromise deal hammered out between the dominant veto proof Democratic legislature and Gov. Jodi Rell, a lame duck Republican.

Once the state’s tax and spend plan had been inked, Democratic legislative leaders labeled it a “bi-partisan” budget, seemingly unaware that one robin doth not a summer make. The Republicans, minus Rell, firmly denounced the budget for all the right reasons and then took a very visible hike.

The short legislative session was “a big letdown,” said the Courant:

“The pact, however, avoids most of the tough choices that would put the state on sounder financial footing as it braces for a budget shortfall projected at $3.8 billion in fiscal 2012, which starts in just 14 months.

“The budget agreement reached this week would cover half the fiscal 2011 deficit with federal stimulus funds — which won't be there this time next year.

“The state would also raid funds for energy conservation and other worthy causes — and borrow $955 million, to be paid off by extending part of a surcharge on monthly electric bills that was to expire soon. Connecticut's electric rates are already among the highest in the nation. Businesses, particularly manufacturers, will take note.”
The paper closed its editorial with a wistful glace back at balmier days: “Connecticut needed at least one strong leader to make tough and unpopular choices — someone with the backbone of former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. That leader was missing this session.”

Weicker, it will be recalled, gave us the income tax, which produced repeated budget surpluses, aggravated spending and made Connecticut’s government too big to fail. It failed anyway, and now those responsible for the failure are looking for bailouts from wealthy millionaires like the guy with the backbone.

Journal Inquirer: Same Deal

Chris Powell is the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and the paper’s chief political columnist.

Unlike some in Connecticut’s migratory press, Powell has been with the paper for many years. A thoughtful commentator, over a period of time he has worked out for himself several state saving measures, chief among them ending binding arbitration for state employees, a notion that operates on the collective unconscious of union owned legislators the way water affected the Wicked Witch Of The West in the Wizard Of Oz.

Torpedoes away:

“Maybe what's most remarkable about the new state budget is that it took so long, three months, to put together so little. The budget spends a bit more than the last budget, makes no serious changes in spending policy, and covers the awful decline in state revenue by borrowing more than 5 percent of expenditures, raiding the state pension fund again, emptying dedicated funds, taxing electricity, and covering hundreds of millions of dollars of recurring costs with one-time federal "stimulus" funds.

“The budget is thus a colossal abdication, something any drug addict could have accomplished in 10 minutes before shooting up and nodding off…

“The failure to try to economize by questioning a few premises amid a near-depression is the responsibility of everyone at the Capitol, but it is mostly the governor's responsibility. Rather than agreeing with the Democrats to borrow 5 percent of spending and to take budget gimmickry to new lows, the governor could have used her veto to insist that the legislature face reality and require some sacrifice from the government class so that things might get better. Instead they now are certain to get worse.

“Since it would take a long time for the legislature's Democratic majority, in thrall to special interests, to begin to perceive a public interest, the governor would have had to be ready to govern indefinitely by executive order without a budget. That would have been work. Instead she joined the Democrats in default, leaving her successor a legacy of disaster.”
Waterbury Republican American: Raw Deal

The Waterbury Republican American is a small but far reaching epicenter of conservative thought and opinion in a state that warmly embraces Jacob Javitts Republicans like Weicker while strangling promising conservative babes in their cribs.

No fair deal, the paper intoned:

“Ignoring the coming catastrophe, they produced a "balanced budget" for 2011 that wishes, pretty-please, for $366 million more from the federal "stimulus" and $270 million in revenue growth; relies on a quarter-billion in unspecified spending reductions; loots $100 million from the dangerously underfunded pension fund; runs through this year's bogus $140 million "surplus"; and deficit-spends nearly $1 billion more. They even purloined $6 million from programs for the mentally retarded so they could show a $4.9 million "surplus."

“If you ran your household this way, you'd be bankrupt. If you ran a business this way, you'd be imprisoned.”

Outrageous Deal

The Day of New London was outraged at the deal.

“You want to know the definition of outrageous? How about this? Increase the state budget during the most serious fiscal crisis in state history. To make it "balance," raid a state workers' pension fund that is already grossly underfunded. Borrow, yet again, to pay for current expenses. In the process, leave a $3.4 billion projected deficit for the next governor and legislature to deal with.

“Then declare it a success.

"’For the last few weeks we have worked together in a respectful and productive manner to address Connecticut's unprecedented challenges. We are pleased to announce we have reached an agreement …’

“So read the joint statement issued by the Republican governor, M. Jodi Rell, and the legislature's Democratic leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn and House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan of Meriden.

“Now that's outrageous.”

If there are any Fair Deal editorials out there praising the highly partisan Democrats and the governor for their courage, sagacity and economic acumen, we have not been able to locate them.
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