Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Malloy, The Budget And The Pinocchio Test

On budget matters, the governor proposes and the legislature disposes. Connecticut’s General Assembly has in the past been disposed to tinker with budgets presented by the state’s chief executive.  No one knows precisely what the Democratic dominated General Assembly will do to a budget that has been etch a sketched by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly.

Once again this fiscal year, Mr. Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders have stiffed Republicans on budget matters. During Mr. Malloy’s first budget negotiations, Republican leaders were shooed out of the room so they might not interfere with delicate negotiations then underway between Mr. Malloy’s agents and union leaders representing SEBAC, the state union conglomerate authorized to negotiate contracts with the governor. On that occasion, Democratic leaders in the General Assembly pre-approved a budget submitted to them by Mr. Malloy and invested him with plenipotentiary powers to make whatever adjustments SEBAC, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, and the governor thought advisable.

The budget was batted around between Mr. Malloy’s Malloyalists and union leaders. After a few bloody rounds, a budget sprang forth about which Edith Prague, a union friendly state senator, said that union leaders would be crazy to reject it. It was rejected by the union crazies, more negotiations ensued, and finally a budget was produced that, Mr. Malloy said, was balanced , contained no gimmicks, was GAAP compliant and “fair share” observant.

Mr. Malloy’s first budget, heavily freighted with the largest tax increase in state history, tilted several times since it had been extruded, sausage-like, from the Democratic dominated General Assembly. There are some number crunchers – though none among the Malloyalist crew, save Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who sometimes demurrers – who doubt that Mr. Malloy’s first budget ever was in balance.

Now comes Mr. Malloy’s second budget – and how fares it?

Republicans – called upon by the governor to iron out in a special session a few deficit wrinkles, a love fest praised by both Mr. Malloy and Republican leaders as a show of non-partisanship the national government would do well to copy – once again have been shown the door.

A one party state like Connecticut does not need the budget input of a bystander party. And never mind that the Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that Republicans should command the top line on the ballot in future elections because Mr. Malloy’s party garnered fewer votes than the Republican Party in the gubernatorial election; it was THAT close, Mr. Malloy winning the election because of votes cast by the putatively independent  Working Families Party.

Every time Mr. Malloy failed to include Republicans in his budget negotiations he disenfranchised the majority of Republican and Democratic Party voters who cast their ballots in his gubernatorial election. This budget year, Mr. Malloy – who twice refused to include Republicans in his budget deliberations – cited Republicans in the General Assembly for failing to offer a shadow budget. Chutzpah, thy name is Malloy.

Mr. Malloy’s budget outline will be presented to the General Assembly, which likely will tinker with the product in an attempt to satisfy union dependent Democratic members in the legislature.

Mr. Malloy recommended his budget to the Democratic dominated General Assembly -- and to the general public -- with his chest expanding to incoming Republican rhetorical bullets: “The bottom line is we will not increase taxes or create any new taxes. The budget will be in balance and will be GAAP-compliant.”

A story in CTMirror added a few cautious “buts” to Mr. Malloy’s brag.

The Malloy budget would not “increase taxes or create any new taxes” in keeping with a previous Malloy pledge that followed the imposition of the largest tax increase in Connecticut history. But “…it also would extend some controversial taxes on businesses and power plants that had been set to expire next year." And but... "It also implements one of the largest tax hikes on gasoline and other fuels in state history on July 1 -- an increase approved in 2005 -- while diverting all of the proceeds to non-transportation programs.” And but “…it also employs a controversial new interpretation of Medicaid budgeting that effectively would remove more than $1 billion from under the constitutional spending cap over the next two fiscal years. The affected Medicaid programs are paid for up-front with state dollars, but all costs are reimbursed with federal aid.”

Mr. Malloy’s budget raises spending, raises taxes and is over reliant on federal reimbursements from an Obamacare that has in it more mirrors and trapdoors than a funhouse. Obamacare recently has met a stiff resistance from union chiefs who fear that union membership will be reduced after the very expensive Obamacare proposition compromises union offered health plans. No word yet from SEBAC as to whether they will join their brothers on the union line who fear that Obamacare will reduce both union membership and dues.

Bottom line: Spending in Connecticut will increase under its present union reliant one party state. And since taxation follows in the rut of spending, taxes in the future will also increase. Neutered legislative Republicans are simply too cowardly to place exorbitant spending rather than tax increases at the center of their assault against a runaway progressivism -- because they too reap the political fruits of heedless spending.
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