Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Looney Bill: Reinventing Connecticut

Now that Democrats have reclaimed the castle from marauding Republicans, State Senator Martin Looney is flexing his considerable muscles. Looney is the President Pro Tem of the State Senate and, as such, is one of two important gatekeepers steering bills through the legislature; the other is Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz, quite literally bought by unions. Aresimowicz is education coordinator employed by AFSCME.

Looney’s political turf is Half of New Haven, which last saw a Republican mayor 68 years ago, and Hamden, politically a vassal of New Haven, home of Yale College. Looney has been in politics for a quarter century, and his tenure has taught him a thing or two. Both Looney and Aresimowicz are progressives very much in the mold of Presidential contender Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, socialist presidential contender Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new face of Democrat socialism, a US Representative from New York's 14th congressional district, which  includes the eastern part of The Bronx and portions of north-central Queens in New York City.

The modern American progressive, like his French counterparts, believes in “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" and is willing to roll out the tumbrils to achieve his aims. First seize political power, permanently destroy the ruling elite, declare war on supportive institutions such as the church and non-fraternal courts, redistribute wealth and herald the glories of revolution. In Looney’s New Haven, some of these aims have yet to be accomplished. Not quite as courageous as Warren, the Leon Trotsky of the new progressive movement in the United States, Looney has yet to fix his attention on the rather vast assents of Yale College. Perhaps it has not yet occurred to him that Yale’s obscene assets, about $6.3 billion, may be expropriated and shipped off to New Haven’s poorer public schools.

Looney has proposed the forced consolidation of school districts in Connecticut, ostensibly to save money and do away with needless duplication of services and personnel such as elected school boards. A probate court map gives present town boards of education some indication of what Looney’s redrawn school districts might look like. The attempt to redraw the educational district map is an attempt to reap the benefits of county government without the trouble of having county government. Connecticut still is divided geographically into eight counties, but no government structure is associated with the counties. The Connecticut General Assembly abolished county government in 1960 because legislators found a county government overlay on municipal government needlessly redundant.

The administrative arm of Looney’s new educational recombination will be the state of Connecticut, now laboring under a pension liability of some $127.7 billion, which amounts to $35,721 per person in the state, the second highest per capita debt in the nation. Yet before leaving office, the democratic tone deaf  Governor Dannel Malloy, whose approval rating upon egress was 25 percent, advised “Communities could help themselves by doing more things together that they do individually. I wish municipalities became as efficient as our state government has become.” Yup, he actually said that.

Looney apparently agrees. But as a matter of fact, municipalities, putting aside the state’s larger Democrat dominated cities, have run their governments far more efficiently than the state. Faced with deficits, municipalities strive to cut costs, and when municipal politicians raise taxes beyond the tolerance limits of the town’s taxpayers, they are voted out of office. The same is not true of the lockbox-breaking members of the state’s General Assembly who are forever confusing the general economic health of the people of Connecticut with the unappeasable hunger on the part of state officials for ever increasing taxation and regulation.  

Connecticut relies for its school funding from three resources: roughly -- federal funds supply 10%, municipal funds 45% and state funds 45%. If school districts currently governed by municipalities are combined, some entity must distribute the funds. In the absence of an additional electable governing entity corresponding to the redrawn districts such as county government, that would be the state. So, if Looney has his way, money will flow from responsive and democratic municipalities to an irresponsible, autocratic, one party state, which then will distribute it to the redrawn school districts.

For all practical purposes, the Looney reform will mean the end of municipal control over school operations and school funding. Spendthrift General Assembly Democrats need to grab municipal cash to finance the increased spending that undoubtedly will recur now that Democrats control by wide margins the General Assembly, the Governor's Office and Malloy appointed Superior and State Supreme Court Justices. Under Looney’s scheme, local control of education will be effectively abolished because -- whoever controls the purse strings also controls the operational strings. That would be the new Looney, Lamont and Aresimowicz triumvirate.

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