Demography, it is said, is destiny. If so, the most current report from the U.S. Census should serve as a splash of cold water in the face of Connecticut legislators.
Marriage in Connecticut during the period surveyed, 2010-2014, has taken a massive hit. Experts say that young adults usually delay marriage because of the burdens of college debt, the high cost of rental housing and anemic salary growth. The high cost of rentals is a measure, in part, of the scarcity of rental housing; through budget mismanagement and a disinclination on the part of the dominant Democrats in the General Assembly to attack spending, Connecticut is still resting somnolently in the lap of a recession that disappeared years ago in the rest of the country; and UConn has just announced plans to boost tuition by thirty one percent.
According to a story in the Hartford Courant, “The number of never-married men in Connecticut jumped by 10.6 percent from 2010, and the number of never-married women jumped 9.3 percent. Nearly 37 percent of all males older than 15 in Connecticut have never married, up from 34.2 percent, the largest increase in the nation.”
An assistant professor of sociology at Quinnipiac University, Lauren Sardi, offered an additional reason for the spike: “People who are at the age now of being married may have come from a broken family, or grown up with divorced parents, and they’re just not interested in growing up and being a part of that.” Other variables account for Connecticut’s poor showing, according to Ms. Sardi: “It also has to do with fewer jobs for people without advanced degrees. People need to put career first before they can afford to get married and have kids. And Connecticut is very expensive, with very high taxes and not as many job opportunities.” If awards were given out to states with the most disappointing “first in the nation” scores, Connecticut’s trophy case would be full.
Last week, Republicans in the General Assembly backed away from a joint Democrat-Republican meeting on the budget – the very first in Connecticut since Governor Dannel Malloy decided to bar Republicans from formal budget negotiations – because Democrats showed no interest in attacking recurring deficits by biting the bullet and accepting proposals that would reduce long-term spending. One need hardly mention that effective spending reduction proposals would not be looked upon favorably by the Democrat’s usual pampered special interests, principally state worker unions, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government. The ship of state appears to be heading at full speed towards the usual iceberg; this time Republicans have refused to accommodate their Democratic brothers and sisters in the General Assembly by shifting the chairs on deck so that no one aboard will see the approaching calamity. Republicans declined to vote in favor of the imposture.
Democrats in the General Assembly have hiked taxes and then reduced a portion of the hikes. They have moved a huge hunk of pension costs from the state budget cap, raising the roof on spending. Attorney General George Jepsen, once Chairman of the Democratic Party, has relieved spendthrift Democrats from laboring under the imagined constraint of the cap by ruling that Connecticut’s constitutional cap on spending has no legal force. The same General Assembly that instituted the cap as an inducement to legislators wavering on voting in favor of then Governor Lowell Wicker’s income tax neglected to supply necessary definitions that would have made the cap operative. In their abbreviated discussion with Democrats, Republicans insisted that the Democrat dominated legislature should in special session enact enabling legislation so the cap could be enforced. No dice said Democrats, new spending projects dancing devilishly in their eyes. The upcoming special spending session will not feature Mr. Malloy’s favored constitutional “lockbox” (read: plunderable slush fund) in which $100 billion was to be deposited over a thirty year period to pay for Mr. Malloy’s extravagant legacy transportation infrastructure program. The “lockbox,” very similar to the faux constitutional cap, fell short of the 114 votes on Tuesday to present the question to state voters next year.
Following summary rejection by leading Democrats of a Republican deficit mitigation amendment that included, in the words of no-nonsense Republican legislator Gail Lavielle, “a list of long-term structural reforms that would end the ongoing deficit cycle, reduce the tax pressure on people and businesses, and protect necessary services for the most vulnerable,” Ms. Lavielle correctly characterized the upcoming business-as-usual prospective Democratic bill: “Their bill, which is like putting a bucket under a leaky roof without fixing the roof, will pass in a bit. What a shame for Connecticut, and how disingenuous.”
Bottom line: Connecticut is back to riotous spending and disingenuous deficit mitigation, nearly all the important locks on excessive spending having been removed by a one-party state that fiddles while everyone who has not fled Connecticut seeking prosperity elsewhere, with the possible exception of gimme-more unions, burns with barely suppressed indignation.