HOUSE BUDGET VOTE DISAPPOINTING
Lawmakers make only cosmetic changes to damaging plan
June 3 – This budget is disappointing. It could have been worse, but that's faint praise. It raises taxes on the middle class, on businesses, on hospitals and on the affluent.
Those of us who love Connecticut know we can do better. This budget will further damage our state’s economic future.
Lawmakers have refused to prioritize and instead have spent too much – irresponsibly breaking through the state’s popular constitutional spending cap. A long history of bad decisions is now catching up, with jobs scarce and many employers on the verge of leaving.
“Some politicians don't seem to understand that tax policies have consequences,” said Carol Platt Liebau, Yankee Institute president. “The more you tax something, the less of it you get – and that goes not just for businesses and jobs, but also for the affluent – who happen to be the most mobile segment of society.”
Lawmakers have been working since January, yet this budget was written in secret and jammed through at the last minute, thereby avoiding a full public debate. This is not the way to do the people's business.
“The citizens of Connecticut should come first,” said Carol Platt Liebau, Yankee Institute president. “Right now, the message is that they don’t. Government employees get their paychecks, and their health care, and their pensions and their retiree health care. Only after all that, do we figure out how to take care of the poor and how to fund our other needs, like building roads and bridges. That's wrong.”
In a move right out of the playbook of former Gov. John Rowland, lawmakers hid the cost of paying for pensions to state employees.
In the 1990s, Gov. John Rowland and complicit union leaders developed a scheme to hide the real cost of state pensions. While Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed a plan to undo the damage with slightly increased annual contributions, he hasn’t set aside the proposed amounts each year.
The latest budget proposal from the General Assembly reverts back to the gimmicks of the Rowland era – and even doubles down on them. Rowland and the union officials across the negotiating table agreed to hide a small portion of the pension costs off the books. This new effort will take the entire cost of paying for state employee retirements off the books.
A recent poll conducted by Cygnal, a national opinion research firm, found broad-based support for the spending cap.
The Yankee Institute for Public Policy is a Connecticut think tank that develops and advances policy solutions to promote smart, limited government; fairness for taxpayers; and an open road to opportunity for all the people of our state.
Related Yankee Institute policy briefs
Sustainable Spending: Keep the Cap
Connecticut’s Spending Cap: A Legal Overview
Connecticut’s Pension Debt and the Spending Cap