Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Malloy Budget Passes Senate

Alleging that the budget that passed through the Connecticut state senate would lead to job creation, the ultimate goal of Democrats in the General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, seemingly pleased that his budget sailed through the senate without serious revision, thanked Senate President Don Williams, Majority Leader Marty Looney, Appropriations Chairman Toni Harp and Finance Chairman Eileen Daily in particular. “They took the budget I proposed, they made it better, and they passed it,” said Mr. Malloy in the following press release:

“The Senators who voted for this budget early this morning should be commended for making the tough decisions necessary to begin the process of getting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order. That was a tough vote to make, but it was the right vote to make. It was a vote for an honest budget, one that’s balanced with no gimmicks, and one that will stabilize the state’s finances and lead to our ultimate goal: job creation. I’d like to thank Senate President Don Williams, Majority Leader Marty Looney, Appropriations Chairman Toni Harp and Finance Chairman Eileen Daily in particular. They took the budget I proposed, they made it better, and they passed it.”
The budget, which includes the largest tax increase in state history, passed the senate by a narrow margin of 19 to 17, three Democrats -- senators Joan Hartley of Waterbury, Gayle Slossberg of Milford, and Edward Meyer of Guilford -- voting against the measure. The marathon debate on the budget ended at 3:00 in the morning. The $40.2 billion two year budget increases spending by 2.14 percent in the first year and 2.32 percent in the second year.

Republicans, who had no hand in shaping the budget hammered out by Democrats behind closed doors, said the tax increases were too high and would produce a surplus of $1 billion in the span of two years. Democrats answered that the surplus is needed to pay off debt and replenish the “rainy day fund" depleted by former Governor Jodi Rell and the Democrats, who have habitually voted for a tax increases they knew were too high. Ever since the income tax had been written into law, Connecticut’s Democratic dominated legislature and its three previous governors have used frequent billion dollar surpluses to boost an ever increasing level of spending.

One need only imagine a drunken sailor in a bar staring with steely determination at a pretty woman to have perfect picture of the effect surpluses generally have on high spenders in and outside the state legislature.

Mr. Malloy was roundly denounced by Republican leaders for having cut them out of the budget decision making process.

Noting that Mr. Malloy had dangled before them a promise of bi-partisan cooperation on the budget, Republican leader Larry Cafero concluded that the governor was “unwilling to compromise, unwilling to listen, headstrong, and not willing to be flexible. It's his way or the highway.”

Sen. Steward McKinney asked pointedly during debate on the budget, “How can you be open for business when you have a 100 percent increase on the corporate surcharge? You cannot preach and talk and scream and say we're open for business and increase the corporate surcharge. At some point, the talk is hollow and meaningless.''

Mr. Malloy’s aversion to dealing with minority Republicans in the General Assembly is reminiscent of the strategy employed by President Barack Obama in pushing through a veto proof congress contested measures that much of the country disapproved of. In a subsequent election, many of the congresspersons who hanged together with Mr. Obama later were hanged separately in the mid-term elections.

Prior to the passage of his budget in the senate, Mr. Malloy, seeking to distinguish himself from his Republican contemporary in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, presented his tax increases as fair and equitable. Amid measures designed to attack spending, Mr. Malloy had deployed “a new way.” Mr. Christie and, surprisingly, Democratic Governor of New York Mario Cuomo both had submitted budgets that contained no tax increases. Mr. Malloy’s budget has a massive doughnut hole in it. Although the Democratic dominated senate passed Mr. Malloy’s plan, the budget was not in balance at passage because state unions, called upon by Mr. Malloy to give back $2 billion in order to balance the budget, are still negotiating the give backs with the governor’s office.

Over in Massachusetts, once derided by nutmeggers as Taxachussetts and now called Wisconsin East, the Democratic denominated House overwhelmingly pushed through a measure that considerably reduces the political heft of unions by eliminating collective bargaining.

“It’s pretty stunning,” the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO said. “These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected.”

The most accurate way to describe Mr. Malloy’s budget is – not stunning: It raises taxes, does not touch the wellsprings of public debt, provides the usual billion dollar surplus and is has not produced fevered objections from the free spending left, with the possible exception of uber-liberal Jonathan Pelto.
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