If there is one overarching message coming out of the Republican Presidential Debates it is the realization that candidates for the highest office in the nation have absolutely no problem with simply making sh*t up.
But the buffoons seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States certainly aren’t alone.
Unfortunately for Americans and American Democracy, making sh*t up has become the new normal across the political spectrum, even (or especially) right here in Connecticut.
Take for instance the case study of Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut’s Fiscal Crisis
As Dannel Malloy is fond of saying, thanks to Republican Governor Jodi Rell and a Democratic General Assembly, he “inherited” a $3 billion budget problem when he took office in January 2011.
In order to put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order Malloy instituted a massive tax increase, significant budget cuts and a large concession package with Connecticut’s State Employees, although he did manage to protect and coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers in the process.
Although his comprehensive financial “fix” didn’t actually solve Connecticut’s budget problems, Governor Malloy set that truth aside and spent the entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign claiming that Connecticut’s state budget was balanced, that there was no state budget deficit, and that if re-elected, he would not propose or accept any tax increase in a second term as governor
According to Malloy, the road ahead was filled with the “green lights” of fiscal stability and that upon entering a second term he would steer the ship of state without having to make cuts to vital services, seek additional concessions from Connecticut’s State Employees or raise taxes.
It was Dannel Malloy’s “Read my Lips” moment and despite the very real warning signs about Connecticut’s growing fiscal problems, Dannel Malloy would not budge from his 2014 political talking points.
“We won’t have deficits. We don’t have deficits.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – Feb 4, 2014
“We really don’t have a deficit.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – August 4, 2014
“There won’t be a deficit. And there won’t be tax increases, because I’m taking that pledge when I couldn’t take it before, because this is a budget I own.” Malloy – NBC Connecticut – Sep. 30, 2014
“I don’t believe there will be a budget deficit and I pledge that there won’t be one. I also pledge that there will not be a tax increase.” Malloy. – FOX CT – Sep. 30, 2014
Although Connecticut law requires the Governor and his administration to provide a truthful assessment of the state’s fiscal situation, the Malloy administration refused to even admit there was a growing budget deficit until after he won re-election in November 2014.
Malloy finally admitted what was already known, that Connecticut’s state budget wasn’t balanced but he and his appointees insisted that they would simply cut spending sufficiently to balance the 2014-15 state budget.
“State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – November 24, 2014
But when Connecticut’s state fiscal year came to a close eight months later, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified that State Government ended the year with a $118.4 million budget deficit.
No amount of reality would stand in the way of Malloy’s political rhetoric, prior to or even after the 2014 Election.
On February 3, 2015, just weeks before Malloy presented his new proposed state budget for Fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, his budget chief briefed the media.
When asked whether Malloy would be able to keep his campaign “no-tax-increase pledge?”
“YES” was how Ben Barnes, Malloy’s Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management responded
Four months later, when Governor Malloy signed the new state budget into law, the “no-tax-increase pledge” was replaced with about $1.8 billion in additional taxes, over the biennium, including the elimination or postponement of $480 million in tax cuts that, during the campaign, Malloy had promised voters would take effect following his re-election.
In addition to shattering his “read my lips” promise on taxes, Malloy’s budget also made significant and drastic cuts to a range of vital services and programs. The hardest hit included Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.
And was that new budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?
Not a chance.
As we are now learning, just four months into the fiscal year, Connecticut’s “balanced budget” is becoming unhinged.
More cuts to vital services and still Connecticut is facing a combined $600 million budget deficit in this fiscal year and next…and the hole is getting bigger.
In addition, as a result of failing to properly balance this year’s budget, Connecticut will be facing a $1.6 billion shortfall in the state budget immediately following the 2016 state elections for members of the Connecticut General Assembly.
As the CT Mirror reported this week,
“That means the financial problems facing the Capitol over the next few years are roughly five times the size of Connecticut’s modest $406 million emergency reserve.”
Since Connecticut law requires the Legislature to adopt a 2 year biannual budget, when newly elected legislators are sworn into office in January 2017, they will be faced with a projected budget crisis of well over $3 billion and growing … A problem similar in size and scope to the budget crisis that Malloy “inherited” when he took office in January 2011.
The truth is that after two gigantic tax increases, major cuts to vital programs and a significant State Employee concession package, Malloy is captaining a ship that will face as big a problem as the one he started with five years ago.
To see politicians making sh*t up, you can tune into the Republican Presidential Debates, or you can simply look to see what is being said by Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official.
Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, voters of all philosophies, now would be a good time to demand better at the national level and right here in Connecticut.