Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Great Compromise

The Great Compromise will compromise everyone but Connecticut’s lame-duck Governor and an insensate Democrat dominated General Assembly.

A front page, top of the fold headline in a Hartford paper blares, “Time For Compromise,” and a sub-heading trumpets, “Malloy Offers Plan With New Tax Hikes, Republicans Scoff.”

Unsurprisingly – because Democrats are up to their old hat tricks – the Malloy plan includes onerous tax increases, the sort of whips and scorns that have made of Connecticut a no-man’s-land for companies that in the past have moved from high to low tax states. The “no tax increase,” lame duck Governor has, right on cue, called for “compromise.”  Said Malloy, after having successfully rebuffed during his entire two term administration Republican reforms targeting the state’s permanent, long-term spending problems, “The time for compromise is now” – now that dissenting voices have been rendered mute. “This,” Malloy said of his current budget iteration, “is the best attempt to resolve this year’s budget. It’s time to vote for a budget.”

Actually, it was time to vote for a budget the first week in June, when the legislative year ran out.

Democrats --  among them a no-tax-increase governor who, as late as January 2017, had been warning his fellow Democrats in the legislature that tax increases would drive people and companies out of state -- had no budget to present to their fellow legislators, most of their time having been spent preventing Republicans from bringing to the floor of the General Assembly for consideration a budget, vetted and pronounced balanced by the Office Of Fiscal Analysis by June, that contained no tax increases, realized savings by the privatization of some state services, and did not, as a future Malloy proposal would do, progressively shift a third of employee pension payments to municipalities that already had firmed up their own budgets.

Democrats lacked a budget because they were waiting upon the governor to conclude contract negotiations with state employee unions, which were completed July 18. These terms, soon baked into budget considerations, were highly favorable to much petted state unions. Having baked the cake, Democrats determined it still was not time to present a budget.

And now in September, the time has arrived. And the budget Democrats are asking spurned Republicans in the legislature to accept does not solve any of the state’s recurring crises and likely will be out of balance soon after it is passed, assuming it survives Republican opposition.

Republican leader in the State Senate Len Fasano thinks Malloy’s revised budget should not survive close scrutiny.

“The governor’s proposal,” Fasano said, “would be the third billion-dollar tax hike for Connecticut in less than seven years. It includes tax increases totaling $1.3 billion over the biennium. And this from a governor who pledged to not lead with taxes! I see no structural budgetary changes of consequence in the governor’s plan that would check some of the fastest rising costs of state government going forward. Obviously, the Senate Democrats are on board with the governor’s billion-dollar tax hike plan. Speaking for all Republicans, I can say that this does not drive us closer to a bipartisan budget deal.”

Malloy’s newest budget plan leads with tax increases repugnant to most Connecticut voters who find they have no money in the till to pay yet another tax grab. The notion that further taxes are necessary to save municipalities from a progressive scheme, devised by Democrats, to shift state educational funding from so called rich to so called poor towns is – unintentionally, of course – laughable; quite on a par with the arsonist who sets your basement on fire and promises to mitigate the trouble he has caused by calling the fire department, if you will kindly pay him a fee.

New Canaan is one of the “rich” municipalities Democrats hope to save by increasing taxes $1.3 billion over the biennium, so that cash strapped state government will be able to reduce state cuts to municipalities that have successfully managed their budgets over the years, unlike the state’s Capital City, Hartford, now threatening to declare bankruptcy unless the state ponies up bailout money.

Chris DeMuth Jr., a businessman in New Canaan, explodes the artful imposture in an op-ed recently published by the NCAdvertiser. Noting that “New Canaan taxpayers send hundreds of millions of dollars to our state government in return for the government sending about 1% of that money back to our town,” DeMuth describes the three main elements of the Malloy plan: “1) Eliminate the few dollars of state funds that manage to make it back home; 2) Keep the mandates. We used to have strings attached. Now we just get the strings; 3) Shift the burden of their reckless fiscal policies to us.”

Punishing successful municipalities -- New Canaan, and others -- and rewarding unsuccessful municipalities – Hartford, and others – cannot be, by any reckoning, a successful political program.

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