Thursday, April 02, 2015

Pretentious Progressives And The Rescission Dodge

If the Malloy administration seems to be pretentious, it is because Governor Dannel Malloy is fast becoming Connecticut’s pretender in chief.

Consider budget rescission. A rescission is a post-budget adjustment made by the governor without legislative approval. If the rescission is small enough, the governor need not refer his budget adjustments to the General Assembly, a politically embarrassing and time-consuming business. Any referral to the General Assembly would be a tacit admission that the budget figures previously presented and approved were out of balance, and any budget reconfiguration by the General Assembly would occasion multiple media controversies that easily can be avoided through the rescissionary process.

In January of this year, Mr. Malloy used his recessionary knife to cut upwards of $31 million from his budget: that was Mr. Malloy’s second rescission. The rescissionary red line is set by statute at one percent of the budget; passing the line, the governor must resubmit his budget to the legislature for re consideration.  Intermittent rescissions are common in the Malloy administration because smaller rescission bites do not trigger legislative overview or approval.

Shortly after Mr. Malloy proposed his first budget in 2011, he asked the Democratic controlled legislature to increase his recessionary authority from 5 to 10 percent. Democrats in the General Assembly were amenable to a temporary increase, and Mr. Malloy used his increased rescission authority to slice $1.6 billion from his two-year, $40.11 billion budget, according to The same Democratic dominated General Assembly was not at all amenable to early labor reforms proposed by Mr. Malloy. Arguing that “We need to make the relationship between the state and our employee base sustainable, something it currently is not,” Mr. Malloy proposed that the legislature invest him with authority to “privatize any state service he saw fit over the next two years.” That measure was indecorously stripped from the final version of the bill increasing Mr. Malloy’s rescission authority.

Misused, the rescission authority of the governor is one of multiple mirrors in a house of mirrors that legally skirts a constitutional provision assigning revenue and expenditure authority to the legislative branch of government. The rescission authority of the governor should be used only when emergencies occur that throw the budget out of balance; instead, it is used to cover willful “miscalculations” in the budget, and its frequent use absolves the legislative branch of its constitutional obligation to monitor, determine and adjust its own appropriations and expenditures.

The real purposes of rescissions are twofold: first, to make minor mostly temporary spending cuts in an already swollen budget; and second, to prevent the progressive Democratic controlled General Assembly from imposing more ruinous taxes – or, better still, from sucking money from similarly tax starved municipal governments.

Progressives in the General Assembly have no intention – none – of imposing permanent spending cuts on a petted, ravenous, union infested public employee workforce. By spending no time at all discussing permanent long term spending decreases, Mr. Malloy -- now a celebrity on the national progressive circuit – has, in concert with Connecticut’s Democratic dominated General Assembly, long since signaled a collective intention of raising yet more revenue. 

The Democratic majority in Connecticut has instead distracted public attention by flashing under the public’s nose bright and spangley social issues while surreptitiously picking the public’s pocket. This raid on the prosperity of Connecticut’s middle class may accurately be portrayed as a war on women and the poor and white men and fatherless over-schooled and under-educated children in Connecticut’s urban centers, and the war had been undertaken on behalf of a prosperous and growing tax gobbling union-protected much petted professional interest group that regularly votes in favor of the conspiracy of some against all.  

Comptroller Kevin Lembo has projected a $172.8 million deficit, which falls an eyelash short of the figure necessary to activate a deficit mitigation plan. God willing, Connecticut’s slow but inexorable slide into penury will trigger the mitigation process. Progressives in the legislature are poised to raise taxes on the rich, sending them fleeing to – who knows? – Indiana, a state upon which Mr. Malloy has declared a propaganda war that cannot fail to benefit the new Democratic leader of the national Democratic Governors Association, who is – trumpets please! – Dannel Malloy, the progressive porcupine. The final blow to Connecticut's faltering economy will come from progressives in the General Assembly undistracted by national adulation such as the wily Martin Looney, President Pro Tem of the state’s Democratic Majority in the House, a man who can club baby seals – fiscal but not social conservatives -- with the best of them.
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