Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Malloy’s Meanderings

Governor Dannel Malloy has been traveling a lot.
 A reporter has now put a price tag on the governor’s meanderings:

“That road show has helped fuel a jump in overtime pay for Malloy's 11-member security detail of state troopers. They have earned a total of nearly $700,000 in overtime since the governor took office. His two drivers alone made a total of more than $150,000 in overtime during that period.
“Malloy's driving costs exceed those of the two previous governors. The highest 12-month cost for former Gov. John G. Rowland's driver was $134,000 in salary and overtime. The highest 12-month figure for Gov. M. Jodi Rell's driver was $129,000, state records indicate.”
This is what we used to call in more frugal days – when, for instance, the national debt was less than $5 trillion and much of Europe, addicted to failed socialist programs, was not on the verge of collapse – a pretty penny.
Has the money been well spent?
Has the money been well spent?

In a word, no.
Mr. Malloy’s criticisms of preceding governors were well received during his gubernatorial campaign. The governor promised then, as he has said scores of times since, to balance the budget without employing what he regarded as deceitful budget gimmickry. The state budget was to be refigured according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles GAAP, which would prevent future governors, including Mr. Malloy, from resorting to discreditable accounting devises to balance budgets: No more shifting accounts receivables and payables across fiscal years to achieve faux balances.
The new math in the new Malloy administration was to be transparent and real. During his first round of visitations after the election, Mr. Malloy’s budget program was nowhere near as transparent as the promised changes in accounting procedures. He traveled here, he traveled there, along with his troop of expensive state troopers, but gave very little indication of his course as governor, beyond stressing that his programs would rely on both tax increases and spending cuts. His peregrinations were a combination of listening tour and a launching ground for the good-bad news, minus specifics, later to be worked out by the governor, all the governor’s men, unions and, just possibly, Republican leaders in the General Assembly.
As it happened, Republicans were cut out of budget negotiations between the governor and union leaders; the resulting budget may never have been in balance; massive tax increases were implemented; GAPP accounting is dallying in the hallway; millions have been shifted within accounts to discharge a continuing budget deficit; and some projected savings, cost reductions to be achieved through suggestions made by state workers for instance, were never traced by the Malloy administration. Budget chief, Benjamin Barnes, the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, told a Journal Inquirer reporter recently “that he never created a system for tracking how employees’ ideas saved — or didn’t save — money.” And, as Managing Editor of the JI Chris Powell notes inhis latest column, “government in Connecticut has gotten bigger, more pervasive, more expensive, and more complicated, a mechanism only Rube Goldberg could appreciate”
The governor and the Democratic dominated General Assembly, dependent upon unions for votes and political grunt work, have steadfastly avoided other more practical, efficient and certain means of cost cutting. One suspects that the mere mention of the phrase “privatization” of some state services is likely to have on union subservient Democrats the same effect as water had in that memorable scene in the “Wizard of Oz” in which an accidentally dousing caused the Wicked Witch of the East to shrivel into a cloud of insubstantial smoke.

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