As the newly crowned head of the Democratic Governors Association, Dannel Malloy will spend 2016 crisscrossing the United States to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidates and his preferred presidential contender, Hillary Clinton. Malloy’s recent campaign trips have already taken him to New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa.
Should Hillary Clinton become President of the United States, Malloy will be able to find a safe landing place in Washington D.C. following the January 20, 2017 Inauguration.
However, should the call to “serve” at the national level elude him, observers can still expect Governor Dannel Malloy to bail as Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official at some point in the next 385 days.
Leading the list of reasons Malloy will seek greener pastures is the harsh reality that the person sitting in the Governor’s chair in 2017 will be facing a massive two-year state budget hole of at least $3.6 billion dollar for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
Malloy is fond of claiming that he inherited a state budget deficit in excess of $3 billion from Governor Jodi Rell. Six years later, Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis projects that Connecticut will face a budget shortfall of $1.7 billion in FY18, $1.9 billion in FY19 and a stunning $2.2 billion budget crisis in FY20,
The fact is that the man who said he’d put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order has cobbled together a series of gimmick ridden state budgets that will require Connecticut’s elected officials to confront at budget problem that will be nearly $8 billion over the three years following this year’s election cycle.
Telling the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal problems have never been one of Malloy’s strong points.
Running for Governor in 2010, Dan Malloy famously laid out his fiscal strategy in an October 26, 2010 WVIT TV Channel 30 debate when he said,
“I want to be very clear: We’re not raising taxes. That’s the last thing we will do.”
Of course, upon taking office in 2011, Malloy led the effort to adopt a new state budget that increased taxes by upwards toward $2 billion, instituted major spending cuts to a variety of critically important state programs and services and produced some labor concessions after he sought to blame state employees for Connecticut’s fiscal problems.
The only group spared from Malloy’s vision of shared sacrifice was Connecticut’s wealthiest.
Malloy’s tax plan pumped up the income tax rate on the state’s middle-income families while coddling the rich. As Malloy explained before a joint session of the legislature, he didn’t want to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share because he didn’t want to “punish” success.
When Dannel Malloy returned to the campaign trail four year later to seek a second term in office his strategy was based on doubling down on the effort to mislead Connecticut’s voters about the state’s fiscal situation.
As the 2014 gubernatorial campaign unfolded, Malloy stuck religiously to his political talking-points claiming;
- “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
Malloy’s “Read My Lips” moment came crashing down only days after he won re-election in November 2014 when his administration was forced to admit that Connecticut’s was facing a growing budget deficit, although at the time he tried to maintain his “no tax” rhetoric telling the CT Mirror,
“State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – November 24, 2014
However, even that claim was as empty as his early campaign promises.
The 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to end with Governor Dannel “No-Tax-Increase” Malloy signing into law a new state budget that contained;
“$1.8 billion in additional tax revenue, 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. (CT Mirror)
Malloy’s new budget also made significant cuts to a range of vital services and programs. Hardest hit were Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.
And was this new state budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?
Not a chance.
As Connecticut citizens soon discovered, within weeks of signing that “balanced” budget, the Malloy administration was forced to admit that a large budget deficit was opening up for this year and next.
In response, Malloy announced budget cuts, called the Connecticut General Assembly into Special Session to adopt more budget cuts and earlier this week, when media coverage was at its lowest point for the year, the Malloy administration announced yet another round of budget cuts.
The latest being some of the most draconian budget cuts to date.
As one advocate for those with disabilities noted earlier this year, “More than 2,100 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been seeking residential services – such as a spot in a group home – but have not received them because of a lack of funding.”
In response to that shocking assessment, Malloy’s budget chief announced this past Wednesday that Governor Malloy had ordered even deeper cuts to Community Residential Services, Employment Opportunities and Day Services for those facing developmental challenges.
At the same time, other vulnerable populations were hit with devastating cuts including early childhood programs, child care services, school readiness, Temporary Assistance to Families – TANF, Grants for Mental Health Services, Young Adult Services mental health services and programs for the homeless.
The candidate who once claimed to be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative has proven that he is neither.
If Connecticut’s annual budget problems don’t speak loudly enough, as a result of Malloy’s spending spree with Connecticut’s state credit card, including more than $1 billion dollars for his corporate welfare giveaway programs, Connecticut’s debt service payments will increase by $61.1 million in FY17, $62.3 million in FY18, $64.8 million in FY19 and $67.6 million in FY20.
Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing will mean that vital services will go unfunded while scarce public funds are syphoned off to pay for the state’s credit card frenzy.
And perhaps worst of all, the most serious fiscal problems facing Connecticut remain unaddressed.
Connecticut’s long term fiscal problems go well beyond the record breaking $22.8 billion in outstanding state debt.
The unfunded State Employee Retirement System (SERS) is short $14.9 billion; the Teachers’ Retirement System is short $10.8 billion, Connecticut’s State Employee Post Employment Health and Life costs will require an additional $19.5 billion and the Teachers’ Post Employment Health costs will need an extra $2.4 billion and that doesn’t even count the remaining obligation associated with actually shift Connecticut to a budget system that meets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Something Malloy promised he would do in his first year in office.)
Adding salt to the wound, Malloy most substantive proposal to address Connecticut’s unfunded State Pension debacle fell apart before it even got out of the starting gate. As the CT Mirror reported, S&P warns Malloy’s pension plan could cause bond rating cut
“…Wall Street rating agency warned it might lower Connecticut’s bond rating – pushing up interest costs on capital projects – if the state adopts Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan to restructure contributions to the employee pension fund.
Standard & Poor’s also wrote in its recent bond outlook pension system is a key “indicator of budget stress” that — along with a largely unfunded retiree health care system — raises the prospect of more state tax hikes in years to come.
“In our opinion, the pension proposal would represent a significant deferral of unfunded pension liabilities after fiscal 2018,” the S&P report states. “And if implemented in a way that led us to conclude that actuarial unfunded pension liabilities were likely to grow substantially over time, could prompt us to lower the state (general obligation bond) rating one notch.”
Of course, then there is also Malloy’s big plans for a massive road and bridge rebuilding program that he proposed this year, while, at the same time, refusing to identify how we should actually pay for the transportation infrastructure renewal plan.
Again, the CT Mirror points out the problem recently reporting that,
“Connecticut’s transportation program could be in deficit by mid-2018, according to nonpartisan analysts.”
The writing is on the wall for all to see.
Having failed to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, failing to adequately fund Connecticut’s public schools, pushing through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education and failing to provide for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens has caught up with Dannel Malloy
The full impact of Dannel Malloy’s failed policies will come into full force when the Connecticut General Assembly reconvenes in January 2017, just two months after this November’s Presidential, Congressional and Legislative elections.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Malloy hands the baton of leadership over to his dutiful and loyal partner, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, before the next state budget plan must be presented for legislative action.