Saturday, January 15, 2011

Powell On Malloy s Brain Trust

Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer Chris Powell, the George Patton of the reality movement in Connecticut politics, examined a report issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Brain Trust and found it “shocking for its obliviousness.”

The report, Powell argues, renews commitments to failed programs and did not recommend “a single important change that might save big money and help restore solvency to state government.”

While the report acknowledges that Connecticut’s formula for municipal educational financing is broken, “… the formula, while often adjusted, has accomplished exactly what it was created to do: send more money to poverty-infested cities. This has achieved only prosperity for city school employees, not any improvement in educational outcomes."

There is little direct connection between money spent on education and educational outcomes:

“But then the problem with educational outcomes has never been the aid formula. The problem has always been the premise that student performance is a matter of school spending. Unfortunately Connecticut has been operating on this false premise since the state Supreme Court decided the Horton vs. Meskill school-financing case in 1977. Despite 30 years of tinkering with the aid formula, the relative performance of city students is worse than ever.

“The report advocates creating two education commissionerships, one for early childhood education and one to oversee all state education efforts from birth to college, though there is no evidence that the two education commissioners already in place do much.

“Even as Connecticut's fatherlessness rate nears 50 percent there is no hint in the report that the education problem is the consequence of the family disintegration and child neglect subsidized by government stipends for childbearing outside marriage. The report presumes that many children never will have parents and that state government will have to be their parents -- or, rather, pretend to be.”
The Brain Trust’s notion that Connecticut is losing jobs to other states for want of a super salesman is also rooted in a false premise, Powell argues:

“The report is just as empty with economic development. Its big idea is that the governor should become Connecticut's cheerleader, touting the state's virtues to businesses and surveying them about what would bring or keep them here. But business wants only what it always has wanted: low and stable rates of taxation and regulation, good infrastructure, and a capable work force. No mere cheerleading can change the underlying circumstances. Those circumstances are that Connecticut has had no private-sector job growth since enacting its state income tax in 1991, just a lot more government expense and regulation. And how can the governor tout to business two major items on his party's agenda -- mandatory paid sick time and a new unemployment fund tax of $40 per employee?”
Hint to the new governor: Before you try to sell an unwanted product to other states – and the out migration of jobs and brains to states with more temperate tax environments and less predatory legislatures is unimpeachable evidence of a product failure – try changing the product.

The Brain Trust has suggested cost reductions in management. But in an environment in which management is itself unionized, serious attempts to reduce cost are bound to fail. If unions are foxes that already have invaded the henhouse, it cannot help to appoint as a warden yet another “management” fox to guard the foxes:

“A serious review of the management question might survey the laws Connecticut has enacted to prohibit ordinary public administration. Recognizing their insolvency, some states are reconsidering binding arbitration of public employee union contracts and reconsidering even collective bargaining for public employees. But not Connecticut; indeed, Connecticut's public employee unions are congratulating themselves for having won the gubernatorial election.”
The overarching question hanging like a Damoclean sword over the heads of every citizen of Connecticut is: Will the legislature and the new governor, all Democrats, allow the crisis unaddressed by Mr. Malloy’s Brain Trust to go to waste?

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