Legislators – Make Malloy veto the only fair, honest and effective way to balance the State Budget.

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After ordering massive budget cuts to a variety of programs that provide critically needed support for some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens and making record breaking cuts to Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, this year’s Connecticut State Budget is still $220 million in deficit.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy claimed that the State Budget he signed into law last summer was balanced and that he had succeeded in putting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, in truth, that budget missed the mark by nearly $1 billion dollars.

Over the last few month Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly have instituted deep and sweeping cuts that undermine some of Connecticut’s most vital social, health and education programs and services.

To make matters worse, Malloy is now withholding funds that Connecticut’s hospitals and non-profit providers of community services need to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents get the essential services they need.

With things getting worse by the day, Democratic leaders in the Connecticut legislature are now saying that they are poised to make even deeper cuts to programs as they flail around in an effort to balance the budget.

See:  Legislative Leaders, Malloy Continue Negotiations Over 2016 Budget Deficit (CT Newsjunkie), Senate Democratic leaders confident deficit-mitigation cuts will pass (CT Mirror), Legislature To Vote Tuesday In Attempt To Close Budget Deficit (Courant)

But there is a simple, honest and effective way for legislators to balance this year’s state budget and it is a solution that will allow them to restore some of the funding for the most important state programs and services.

However, Governor Malloy doesn’t like the idea so Democratic legislators are simply pretending that the best solution for the people of Connecticut doesn’t even exist.

It is time for Connecticut legislators to dismiss Malloy’s bullying.  He is a governor, not a king!  Their duty is to their constituents, not to the power hungry governor.

The best, most honest and most effective solution is for the members of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives to do the right thing and pass a budget deficit mitigation package that requires the super wealthy to pay their fair share.

If Governor Malloy’s decides that his priority is to coddle the rich while the rest of Connecticut suffers, let him veto the bill and face the political consequences.

The solution is extremely simple.

As the non-partisan research group Connecticut Voices for Children have reported;

  • Connecticut’s poor families pay about 12.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • Connecticut’s middle income families pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • And Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

As a direct result of Governor Malloy’s ongoing effort to protect the rich, Connecticut’s wealthy pay FAR less than they would if they lived in Massachusetts, New York or New Jersey..

The harsh, but unspoken, reality is that Connecticut’s middle class and working families are subsidizing Connecticut’s wealthy.

It is a policy that is unfair and needs to stop.

Connecticut’s public officials can eliminate the budget deficit by simply making Connecticut’s tax system fairer.

Depending on how it is actually structured, increasing the tax rates on wealthy resident’s capital gains or personal income would result in $250 million to $400 million in additional state revenue this year.

Instead of cutting vital programs and shifting even more of the burden onto local property tax payers, Connecticut elected officials should dismiss Malloy’s rhetoric and adopt a budget solution that is fair, honest and effective.

The question is, will elected officials do the right thing for their constituents or join Malloy by aligning themselves with the state’s wealthy.

 

Will Democrats Malloy, Wyman and the CT Dem Party disavow Ed Marcus’ disgusting attack on Sanders and all Democrats?

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Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus is, among other things, a thug.

After serving for ten years in the Connecticut General Assembly, six of which I also worked as the Connecticut Democratic Party’s Political Director, I left Connecticut politics in 1993.

I ended my career in elective office and Democratic Party politics a number of reasons, the primary one being that I wanted to be an active, engaged and hands-on father for my newborn daughter.

However, in addition, I left because the Democratic State Central Committee selected Ed Marcus to be the Party’s Chairman.  Marcus ran on a platform claiming that he would fire me his first day in office due to my legislative work on behalf of a fairer and more progressive state tax structure that included a new state income tax.  He also condemned my “liberal” politics.  It was with a sense of honor that I cleaned out my office and left Democratic Headquarters the day Marcus became its leader.

Today, just like back then, Ed Marcus was utterly unable to recognize that the underlying principle of being a Democrat begins with the concept that a Democrat believes in democracy (a word that beings with a lower-case d).

Now, in a truly unbelievable and disturbing commentary piece in the CT Mirror entitled, Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC, the former head of the Connecticut Democratic Party proclaims that Bernie Sanders is not “Democrat” enough to run for President as a “Democrat.”

For those of us who were brought up to believe in the principles that motivated millions of Democrats to support and vote for elected officials who would make our towns, states, nation and our world better, safer and healthier places to live and raise a family, a world in which the most important elements of an egalitarian society would exist for ourselves and our children, Ed Marcus’ diatribe is nothing short of hate speech.

And thus it requires an immediate and uncompromising response from Connecticut’s “so-called” Democratic Leaders:

Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman

Connecticut Democratic Chairman Nick Balletto Jr.

 The spotlight is on you!

Do you totally and completely disavow the repugnant and idiotic words of Ed Marcus.

This is not about whether one intends to vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, although Marcus makes an excellent case for why Democrats should be voting for a real change.

The is about the meaning of American democracy and being a Democrat;

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Democrats, here in Connecticut and across the nation, can read and comment on Marcus’ “commentary piece” at http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/02/29/sanders-a-democrat/.  It is also reposted below.

Democratic Leaders must immediately speak out against Ed Marcus and others who, if unchallenged, will destroy what is left of the historic Democratic Party.

Letting Sanders run as a Democrat was a big mistake by the DNC  (By Former Connecticut Democratic State Chairman Ed Marcus

Bernie Sanders.  A Democrat.  Really?

Sanders has run and been elected as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont; run for and been elected a Vermont Congressman; and run and been elected as a U.S. senator from Vermont. In none of those elections has he ever identified himself as a Democrat. He has run as either a socialist, or independent, but never as a Democrat.

So how is he able to run as a Democrat in 2016? I guess we would have to ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  She is directly responsible for permitting Sanders, an avowed socialist, to run as a Democrat.  Did she think it would just be a good workout for Hillary, or did she not have the guts to say no?

I believe that it is the latter. What the Democratic National Committee has done to the Democratic Party by declaring Sanders eligible to run as a Democrat is to force Hillary to spend time, money, and energy that could have been devoted to the general election against a Republican.

Sanders is so far to the left that he could never be elected as President, despite his recent showing in the New Hampshire primary.  His values, and that of most of us who have been lifetime Democrats, are not the same.

It is easy to attract support from college kids who know nothing about the real world.  In Connecticut he’ll get help from people who see support for Sanders as a way of becoming a delegate to the National Convention, as well as from those who believe in distributing other people’s money to those who may not be as fortunate. We already do this by way of progressive taxation, but for some folks that isn’t good enough.

Sanders is an annoyance much in the way of a Jerry Brown in 1992, Ted Kennedy in 1980, and Bill Bradley in 2000. We do not need another George McGovern disaster for the Democratic Party which, particularly in this election would impact every resident of the United States.  If by some weird confluence of events we have Sanders as a candidate, ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz what she possibly could have been thinking.

I think back to the National Convention of 1968, at that time National Delegates were chosen by the delegates to the State Convention and the State Convention was basically controlled by the late John Bailey who was then both chairman of the State Democratic Party and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Bailey did not want a primary since that would have been embarrassing to him and a sign of lack of leadership to the people in Washington, including Hubert Humphry who was the “establishment candidate.”

What happened was that Bailey, Catherine Quinn who was Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee, and myself, along with one or two other people whose names I can’t recall, met in the so-called “Green Room” at the Bushnell and decided that we would give the people who were supporting U. S. Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota (who ran against Humphry at the convention) 12 delegates. Among the delegates selected was Paul Newman, his wife Joanne Woodward, Arthur Miller, Irving Stolberg who later became Speaker of the House in the state General Assembly.  At that time I was the Senate Majority Leader.

I am not in any way implying that it was democracy at work, but it was leadership at work.  The bottom line is Connecticut did not have a divisive primary and although Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon, Bailey was able to hang on to his leadership positions both here and nationally.

Was that system better than the existing one? In all honesty I’m not certain, but I’m also not certain if the existing system works since so much of what occurs in a primary is based on who can get out the vote and who develops a following like the next Messiah, which is what has happened with Sanders.

Sanders raves and rants but basically his theme is generally the same: You would have a better life if it weren’t for the people on Wall Street that make millions and billions of dollars.  Part of that may be true, but this is America and we are a capitalist society and it’s a country where everyone has the opportunity to make it.  All you have to do is look at Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and others like them over the years who basically started with nothing and ended up as President.

Leadership is vital in heading a party both on a state level and national level. I believe that Debbie Wasserman Shultz has failed the Democratic Party and has put Hillary Clinton into a hotly contested primary season — that need not have happened if Wasserman had simply indicated that Sanders, an avowed socialist, who had never before registered as a Democrat, could not run as a Democrat.

In New Hampshire as well as several other states anyone can vote in a Democratic Primary. That is a bad idea and concept. After all it is not a general election and if anyone can vote they vote for in essence against candidates for different reasons. There are many Republicans and some Independents who have supported Sanders only because they know that Hillary is electable and Sander is not.  That type of voting pattern was clearly in play in New Hampshire. It should not be permitted. Cross over voting is not what a Democratic Primary is all about.

There’s no question in my mind that the Democratic Party needs a new chairperson who understands what leadership means, with the gumption and common sense to lead the party, not to permit a non-Democrat to run as a candidate in what after all are Democratic Party Primaries.

Edward Marcus is former chairman of the Democrat State Central Committee in Connecticut, former state Senate majority leader, and principal of Branford-based Marcus Law Firm

ALERT – Lobbyists for the “Education Reformers” spend $1.9 million more in Connecticut.

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While 2015 was a bad year for many Connecticut taxpayers and for those that rely on vital state services, it was a very, very good year for Connecticut’s charter school industry.

Making deep and significant cuts to a broad range of critical services, including funding for public education, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly actually handed even more public money over to the privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

While leaving Connecticut’s real public schools without sufficient funds, Malloy and Democratic legislators approved a deal to divert more than $100 million dollars this year to the companies that operate Connecticut’s charter schools.

Why would Malloy and Connecticut’s elected officials turn their backs on their own students, parents, teachers and public schools?

Maybe it had something to do with the record breaking amount of money that the “education reformers” and the charter school industry spent lobbying the Governor and the legislature.

Connecticut’s Democratic legislative leaders initially said they would not agree to giving Connecticut’s charter schools even more money, Malloy demanded that it was, “his way or else.” Rather than doing the right thing and standing their ground against the bully, Democratic legislators even gave Malloy the additional money he wanted to open two new charters schools – one in Bridgeport and one in Stamford. Both local boards of education in Bridgeport and Stamford had overwhelmingly opposed the proposed charter schools, explaining that they did not need or want additional charter schools in their district.

Ignoring Connecticut’s collapsing fiscal situation, the Governor and legislature actually handed the charter schools even more scarce public funds, even though those schools discriminate against Connecticut children by refusing to accept and educate their fair share of students who require special education services and those who aren’t proficient in the English language and therefore need additional English language services.

According to the latest lobbying reports filed by the various corporate education reform lobbying groups with the Office of State Ethics, the corporate-funded advocacy organizations that support charter schools, the Common Core and the absurd Common Core testing scheme spent more than $1.9 million lobbying Malloy and the legislature in 2015.

Leading the spending spree was the New York-based entity that calls itself, “Families for Excellent Schools, Inc.”  This is the group that bussed in parents and students from as far away as New York City and Boston to hold a rally at the Connecticut State Capitol demanding more money for the privately owned charter schools.

The additional $1.9 million in lobbying expenditures brings the total amount these groups have spent in support of Governor Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher initiatives to more than $9 million, making it the most expensive lobbying campaign in Connecticut history.

The list of corporate-funded education reform entities that reported lobbying Malloy and the legislature in 2015 included Achievement First, Inc., the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc.  (ConnCAN); Families for Excellent Schools Inc.; the Connecticut Council for Education Reform Inc. (CCER); the North East Charter Schools Network and the Bronx Charter School of Excellence.  A number of other charter school and education reform front groups, including Educators 4 Excellence, Excel Bridgeport and Achieve Hartford were active around the state but claim that they did not communicate with the governor or legislators and therefore do not need to reveal how they spent their money.

Connecticut has become a case study in how “big money” is changing how education policy and politics is conducted.

Malloy and Dems take giant step backwards as World Leaders negotiate effort to save the Earth from Climate Change (updated)

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NOTE:  Updated with responses from Malloy administration agencies

Heralded as groundbreaking legislation designed to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gasses, in 2007, Republican Governor Jodi Rell signed legislation that “permanently” exempted weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the Connecticut State Sales Tax.

The legislation, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the Democratic-controlled Connecticut General Assembly, was cited as one of the state’s major accomplishments.

Gina McCarthy, then Connecticut’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection and now the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, highlighted the “landmark” legislation in her 2007 Annual State Report entitled Protecting and Restoring our Environment.

In a 2014 national EPA report on “Existing State Policies and Programs that Reduce Power Sector CO2 Emissions,” McCarthy’s agency explained the importance of “State tax incentives for energy efficiency,” writing

“…sales tax exemptions…spur private sector innovation to develop more energy efficient technologies and practices and increase consumer choice of energy-efficient products.

To this day, the federal government promotes Connecticut’s sales tax exemption law on its Department of Energy website

However, just two weeks ago as world leaders, including Gina McCarthy, worked around the clock to develop the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Governor Malloy and Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly repealed Connecticut’s important sales tax exemption on weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs as part of their “Democratic Budget Deal.”

Why?

The reason remains a mystery, but faced with a growing state budget deficit the Democrats’ “budget mitigation bill” included a variety of budget gimmicks, significant cuts to important human services and education programs, a major tax break for General Electric (and a handful of other large companies) and a sentence repealing Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 12-412k. [The state statue that exempts residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the state sales tax]

Section 12-412k. (a) For purposes of this section, “residential weatherization products” means programmable thermostats, window film, caulking, window and door weather strips, insulation, water heater blankets, water heaters, natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers that meet the federal Energy Star standard, windows and doors that meet the federal Energy Star standard, oil furnaces and boilers that are not less than eighty-four per cent efficient and ground-source heat pumps that meet the minimum federal energy efficiency rating.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to sales of any residential weatherization products or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

With no public notice, hearing or debate, Malloy and the legislature simply voted to eliminate the sales tax exemption on residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs as of January 1, 2016.

The move will mean that Connecticut residents trying to weatherize their homes or buy energy-efficient light bulbs will pay an additional $3.6 million in sales tax to the State of Connecticut in FY 2016 and $7.5 million in FY 2017.

But, of course, perception is always more important than reality;

The recent move to reduce Connecticut’s commitment to energy efficiency and slow climate change didn’t stop Governor Malloy from making sure he was part of the news story and photo opportunity when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to Connecticut last week to talk about the Paris Agreement.

As CT Newsjunkie reported with, “EPA Chief Returns to Hartford, Touts Paris Agreement On Climate Change,”

It was a homecoming of sorts for Gina McCarthy, the current administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who served as the head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 through 2009.

Flanked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and members of the Connecticut Auto Retailers Association, McCarthy returned to … to talk about the Paris agreement, under which 195 countries have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

She said climate change is one of the biggest “economic and national security challenges of our time,” and because of the leadership of President Barack Obama, “we were able to get an agreement in Paris that everyone should be proud of.”

[…]

McCarthy said the only reason they were able to push forward with a plan to reduce emissions here in the United States and a plan to lower the temperature of the climate globally is because states like Connecticut are paving the way.

[…]

The governor said Connecticut is doing its part to address the impact of global warming.

Several years ago the state passed legislation to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and it became the first “range confident” state for electric vehicles in the nation.

“Climate change is happening. Make no mistake about that,” Malloy said. “And it’s time to take action to address the challenge in a responsible and thoughtful way.”

It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon, Malloy added.

Yup, Governor Dannel Malloy, who now serves as the head of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and therefore the spokesman for the country’s Democratic Governors actually spoke up about Climate Change saying, “It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon.”

The only problem is that Malloy failed to tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the media or the public that he had, in fact, acted…

But alas, it was in exactly the wrong direction.

Footnote:

The 2007 legislation exempting weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs passed the Connecticut House of Representatives on June 1, 2007 by a vote of 128 -19, with both present Speaker of the House Sharkey and Majority Leader Aresimowicz voted in favor of the bill. The next day the bill passed the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 32-3 with now President Pro-Tempore Looney and Majority Leader Duff voting “Yes.”

The advocacy group, Energy Northeast, wrote about the original sales tax exemption stating;

Illustrating the bi-partisan and diverse stakeholder appeal of legislation requiring [greater energy efficiency] is Rhode Island’s 2006 efficiency procurement law [which] passed a Democratic-majority state Senate and House unanimously and was signed at a joint press event with the sitting Republican Governor a few days later. Similarly, Connecticut’s 2007 Efficiency Procurement legislation was passed overwhelming by a Democratic-majority state legislature and signed by a Republican Governor.”

But that was then and this is now…

Eight years after the bi-partisan commitment to promoting energy efficiency and with the issue more important than ever, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and Democratic General Assembly decided that a few million dollars in additional state revenue was more important than continuing to help Connecticut residents weatherize their homes and buy energy-efficient light bulbs.

Requests for comment were made to Governor Malloy’s Office, the Office of Policy and Management and various agencies in the Malloy administration.

The Department of Revenue Services responded by email saying  they would have no comment.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Communication Director responded as follows:

In these difficult financial times for our state, we recognize that tough decisions have to be made.  In order to balance the state’s budget, the General Assembly has had to look at eliminating sales tax exemptions on many products and services.

While the sales tax exemption that covered many products used for weatherizing homes was certainly an added incentive for people to take action, we believe its elimination will not have a significant impact on the public’s appetite for energy efficiency projects.

Homeowners and businesses understand the importance of weatherization and energy efficiency – and the kinds of saving that can be achieved.  This concept has become deeply embedded in people’s minds and even without an sales tax exemption there will continue to be a strong focus on saving energy.

 

 

You can read more about McCarthy’s visit to Connecticut last week via the CT Mirror’s EPA’s Gina McCarthy stops by with a Paris postcard

 

Denying reality, Malloy blames legislature for cuts to Tourism and Arts in recent “Democratic budget bill”

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In a stunning attempt at revisionist history, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to WNPR radio to blame the Connecticut General Assembly for the recent cuts to the state’s tourism and arts programs when, in fact, it was the legislature that had reduced – by a significant amount – the cuts that Malloy has repeatedly has wanted to those programs.

However, the truth didn’t stop the Democratic Governor from throwing the legislature, and especially his Democratic colleagues, under the bus.

Here are the facts:

At the beginning of this year, Governor Dannel Malloy proposed a state budget that reduced Connecticut’s “Still Revolutionary” Tourism Marketing Program from $12 million to $10 million dollars.

At the same time, Malloy proposed about $5.9 million in cuts to Connecticut’s various museums, cultural and arts programs.

During the budget process, the Connecticut legislature rejected the vast majority of cuts to the cultural and arts programs but did reduce funding for the State Tourism Marketing Program by an additional $500,000, bringing this year’s State Tourism Marketing Program to a total of $9.5 million.

This fall, faced with a growing state budget deficit, despite having claimed he had signed a balanced budget 90 days earlier, Governor Malloy called for bi-partisan budget negotiations to develop a new budget deficit mitigation plan to balance the budget.

As part of that process, on November 10, 2015, Malloy issued a proposed list of budget cuts that included an additional $1 million cut to the State’s Tourism Programs ($500,000 for the State Tourism Marketing Campaign and $500,000 to the State Tourism Districts.)  Malloy also proposed an additional $4.5 million in cuts to the state’s museums, cultural and arts programs.

When the Democrats in the General Assembly passed the “Democratic Budget Deal” last week, it included a $1 million reduction to the State Tourism Marketing Program, but again rejected Malloy’s attack on Connecticut’s culture and art programs.

But rather than tell WNPR Connecticut Public Radio’s Ray Hardman the truth during a recent news segment about the budget cuts to the State’s tourism and arts programs, Malloy straight out lied about his role in the entire process.

First, in a politically blatant maneuver to mislead the public, Malloy tried to suggest that the decision to reduce state funding for tourism and arts was the result of a bi-partisan agreement, which of course, is completely false.   While the budget negotiations began with the Republican legislative leaders at the table, no bi-partisan agreement could be reached and the package was eventually passed with only Democrats voting in favor of the bill.

Second, in an even more politically embarrassing move – considering Malloy isn’t up for re-election in 2016, but Democratic legislators will be facing voters next November –  Malloy decided to throw his fellow Democrats under the bus for suggesting that it was the legislators who were the ones focused on cutting tourism and the arts.

As WNPR’s story explained;

Tourism and the arts took a hit in the budget adjustment agreed on by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature in special session earlier this week. The adjustment was needed to fill a $350 million hole in the state budget.

The biggest hit to culture and tourism was a $1 million cut to the state’s “Still Revolutionary” tourism marketing campaign. That’s despite strong tourism numbers this summer, showing increases in both hotel occupancy and out of state visitors. Regional tourism offices were also affected.

“It’s not something I advocated for,” said Malloy of the cuts in an editorial meeting with WNPR. “But in a bipartisan process, you have to make compromises. Members of the legislature are not as supportive as I am, and this is an ongoing and fairly constant battle.”

That Malloy would duck his role in cutting state funding for tourism and arts programs by suggesting that the Republicans supported his budget proposal is bad enough, but considering that as a Democrat, Malloy is supposed to be supporting his fellow Democratic elected officials, it is particularly troubling that the Governor would twist the truth in an effort to blame Democratic legislators when they were the ones who were actually working to reduce the damaging cuts that Malloy was trying to push through.

Of course, more cuts to tourism and the arts are coming since the Democrats in the General Assembly did give Malloy the authority to cut an additional $93 million from this year’s state budget, cuts that he will make without the legislators review or approval.

When WNPR asked about that next round of cuts, Malloy said that culture, arts and tourism would be far down on his list of possible new cuts…

Yeah and I have a nice bridge for sale….

The Decline of the Great American Middle Class

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Whether driven by benign-neglect or outright disdain, the “advanced capitalist system,” along with the nation’s two-party, “incumbency” form of government continues to undermine the country’s Middle Class and hold down those without the resources to live full and fulfilling lives.

As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a professor of Economics at Columbia, recently noted,

“The world’s quintessential middle class society is on the way to becoming its first former middle class society.”

According to a new Pew Research Center report,

“In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined…marking the first time in the center’s four decades of tracking this data that the size of the latter groups has transcended that of the first.

[…]

Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

[…]

And middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.

[…]

Meanwhile, the far edges of the income spectrum have shown the most growth. In 2015, 20% of American adults were in the lowest-income tier, up from 16% in 1971. On the opposite side, 9% are in the highest-income tier, more than double the 4% share in 1971.

[…]

The hollowing of the American middle class has proceeded steadily for more than four decades. Since 1971, each decade has ended with a smaller share of adults living in middle-income households than at the beginning of the decade.

Previous observations about the decline of the middle class and growing chasm between the super wealthy and everyone else, on this blog and elsewhere, has generated complaints about the inappropriateness of discussing what they claim to be a call for “class warfare.”

But it is long past time for the nation to drop that defense and for our elected officials to recognize that if we continue to refuse to discuss inequality, equity and fairness, we most certainly will be talking about class warfare, but we will be talking about it in the context of the very real frustration, anger and violence that will continue to grow and spill into the streets of the cities and towns across the United States.

Call it class warfare or use some other euphemism, but talk about it we must.

And that discussion needs to begin with the prompt adoption of a tax system that is fairer and more just, in which the wealthy are required to pay their fair share.

As Wait, What? readers know, in Connecticut the wealthiest pay about 5-6% of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class about 10-11% and the poor in excess of 12%.

Connecticut’s legislators could make a profound impact by ending the budget games and empty political rhetoric and actually changing the tax structure to reduce the burden on the Middle Class and all of those who are striving to make ends meet.

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce

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The Connecticut General Assembly will return to the state capital today to vote on a “Democratic Budget Deal” that they claim will eliminate this year’s budget deficit by authorizing Governor Dannel Malloy to cut an additional $93 million in unspecified programs and raiding money from a variety of dedicated special funds.

A CT Mirror article written by Keith Phaneuf and entitled, CT deficit plan taps many special funds and one-time sources, pretty much sums of the Democrat’s budget balancing strategy.

One of the most disturbing provisions of the new “Democratic Budget Deal” is that for the third time in three years the Democrats are going to steal the money that has been set-aside to install seatbelts in school buses and use the funds to help balance the state budget.

On December 20, 2012, the Wait, What? headline read; Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?

Following the tragic school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford in January 2010, a crash that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools, the legislature kicked into action.

On May 1st of that year the General Assembly passed what was to become Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administer a program to use the funds in the account to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $175.

[On 12/19/2012] the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill included language overriding the previous law and transferring the $4,700,000 from the School Bus Seat Belt account into the General Fund to help eliminate this year’s $415 million deficit.

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

And besides, who would remember that the account in question grew out of the concern elected officials had for the safety of our children.

Then on June 3, 2015 came, The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget

[Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!]

After working through the night, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the Connecticut State Senate finally twisted enough arms to take up the state budget plan that they negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy.

After hours of debate, the House passed the $40.3 billion, two-year budget plan by a vote of 73 to 70 with eleven Democrats voting against their party’s leadership.

[…]

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

“On or before June 30, 2015, the sum of $ 3,000,000 shall be transferred from the school bus seat belt account, established in section 14-50b of the general statutes, and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Wait, What?

These people would actually steal the money that is dedicated install seat belts into school buses and dump it into this year’s General Fund to make the state deficit look smaller?

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

Now, as Keith Phaneuf reports,

Other fund diversions used to supplement the new deficit-mitigation plan include:

  • $22.1 million from reserve accounts from public colleges and universities.

  • $2 million from a biomedical research fund.

  • $2 million from a program to fit school buses with seat belts.

  • And nearly $3.7 million from four miscellaneous accounts.

This additional raid of the School Bus Seatbelt Fund means that over the course of three years, the Democrats have diverted nearly $10 million in funds meant to retrofit school busses with seatbelts and used that money to fill holes in the state budget.

And if that bait and switch maneuver isn’t disturbing enough, imagine if you were a parent of a student attending one of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.  You’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, in tuition and fees and now you learn that Connecticut’s elected officials are reaching into the university and college’s “reserve accounts” (funded by tuition) and grabbing $22.1 million to balance the state budget.

The CT Mirror article goes on to explain;

While the General Assembly is expected to adopt a plan in special session Tuesday to close most or all of this fiscal year’s budget deficit, restore some funds for hospitals and finance modest business tax breaks, almost 40 percent of the plan diverts resources from specialized funds and various one-time sources.

[…]

Besides mitigating or eliminating that shortfall, the savings also will be used, Democratic legislative leaders said, to restore some earlier cuts to hospitals and social service programs, as well as to finance modest corporation tax cuts.

The Democratic plan, which Republican minorities in the House and Senate are expected to vote against, also would produce $212 million in savings in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Looney added. According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, next fiscal year already faces a built-in hole of $552 million.

But according to a summary of the plan obtained by The Mirror, just over $135 million in general fund savings this fiscal year would come by diverting or raiding other programs, including two of the biggest initiatives Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislators built into the current budget.

Just over $35 million in revenues owed to the Special Transportation Fund would be diverted, which probably would force officials to draw down the fund’s reserve. Nonpartisan analysts already have warned that the transportation fund — despite being targeted in June to receive an annual share of general fund sales tax receipts — is on pace to fall into deficit by the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Democrats also would defer a $70.4 million deposit owed to a special new revenue-sharing program designed to help cities and towns control property tax hikes.

Finally, perhaps the most telling point of all is that despite the fact that legislators will be voting today on this “package,” the CT Mirror noted that,

“Though full details of the deficit-mitigation bill weren’t available late Monday, the plan also hinges heavily on the administration’s finding $93 million in undefined savings.”

Rather then fulfill their legal and moral obligation to set Connecticut’s State Budget, Democratic legislators will simply hand that task over to Governor Malloy.

Connecticut Public Financing Program “Safe”, For Now … But…

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As CT Newsjunkie reported late yesterday,

“By the end of the day Thursday, both House and Senate Democrats who proposed suspending Connecticut’s landmark public financing system in 2016, had withdrawn their proposals.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, made the announcement early Thursday afternoon and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz agreed to find the money elsewhere later Thursday afternoon. The news of the reversal came part way through a press conference held by ConnPIRG, Common Cause, lawmakers and other defenders of the clean election system.”

As reported in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, Connecticut’s Democratic Legislative Leaders call for suspending elections to save money…,

The Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly proposed suspending Connecticut’s public financing system, thereby allowing legislators to transfer about $11 million toward the $254 million budget deficit in this year’s state budget.

Their plan would roll back the campaign finance system that Connecticut adopted after former Governor John Rowland resigned in disgrace and was sent to prison.

Instead of keeping Connecticut’s Clean Election Program in place, Democratic leaders would return the state to the “Wild West” campaign fundraising system that favored incumbents and ensured that campaigns for the legislature were primarily financed by political action committees, lobbyists and those who benefit financially from state contracts.”

Former Governor Jodi Rell joined in condemning the Democratic leader’s move to end the Clean Elections Program but correctly noted that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly had already undermined some of the most important aspects of the historic effort to keep dirty money out of Connecticut politics.

In a statement Rell observed,

“The Democrats have effectively eviscerated the spirit of the law since 2011 and now they are looking to overturn the actual letter of the law altogether.”

Meanwhile, faced with a state budget deficit in excess of $254 million, the Senate Democrats issued their own proposal yesterday. (See CT Newsjunkie’s The Democratic Divide and CT Mirror’s Senate Dems break with House, go own way on deficit.)

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

Senate Democrats issued their own deficit-mitigation plan Thursday, pressing for a retirement incentive plan opposed by House Democrats and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as damaging to the state’s overburdened pension system.

The retirement incentives were offered in place of suspending the state’s public financing of campaigns, a measure included in a list of spending cuts they jointly proposed Monday with House Democrats.

[…]

An estimated $163 million would be saved over this fiscal year and next, Senate Democrats say, by paying incentives to encourage senior state employees to retire.

Of course Connecticut has learned the hard way that while retirement incentives “reduce” the state payroll by persuading state employees to retire early, it does that by moving employees from the state payroll over to the pension fund, which is already extraordinarily underfunded.

In addition, since some state employee positions must be refilled in order to maintain some of the most critical state services, early retirement programs never save as much money as initially proposed.

For Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, early retirement incentive programs disrupt the level and quality of vital services they receive.

In addition, while the budget cutting plans issued by Governor Malloy, the House Democrats, the Senate Democrats and legislative Republicans differ in various ways, all target the University of Connecticut, Connecticut’s State Universities and the state’s Community Colleges for even more devastating cuts ranging in size from a low of $12 million to Governor Malloy’s high of $28 million.

Malloy has already dealt Connecticut’s public colleges and universities with the biggest budget cuts in Connecticut history, which in turn have led to massive tuition increases and reduced educational opportunities and programs.

Governor Malloy – A politician who simply cannot tell the truth

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Monday, October 18, 2015,

Standing outside his state Capitol office Monday, Malloy said there’s been a significant downturn on Wall Street, and personal income is not rising as fast as expected. That’s why his budget office was expected to report that even after $103 million in emergency budget cuts last month, the state is running a $118.4 million deficit, only four months into the new fiscal year. A majority of the deficit is attributed to the $109 million drop in personal income taxes. –  CT Newsjunkie

NOTE:  The $118.4 million deficit COMES AFTER the destructive and callous $103 million in cuts that Malloy announced a month ago – cuts that will reduce a variety of vital services including to those for people with developmental disabilities and mental health problems, as well as, reductions that will domino into almost $190 million in cuts in state and federal funds to Connecticut’s hospitals.

  • When Governor Malloy signed the new state budget into law in June, the Malloy administration claimed the state budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • In July, at the start of the fiscal year, the Malloy administration claimed the Connecticut State Budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • In August the Malloy administration claimed the Connecticut State Budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • Even as late as the first week of September, the Malloy administration said the State of Connecticut had a small surplus.

And then on September 18th,

“Responding to a weak stock market, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered $103 million in emergency cuts Friday…

[…]

Benjamin Barnes, the governor’s budget chief, said lower-than-expected income tax receipts and the drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index for the first nine months of 2015 prompted the reductions just three months into the state’s fiscal year. – CT Mirror

And now, a month later Malloy holds another press conference to announce the hole in the budget has grown by another $118 million and this time he is open to “talks” with the legislature, including the Republicans.

Less than sixty days ago, the State of Connecticut had a surplus, now the situation has suddenly changed, the budget problem is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars ($221 million) and growing.

And the political spin for this development?

Malloy and his team explain that the problem is the stock market.

But as the CT Mirror’s has Keith Phaneuf has noted for months and re-explains in his latest CT Mirror story entitled Questions about the last recession complicate CT’s budget woes, the problem facing Connecticut is not simply a “drop in the stock market” but a much more serious problem with the economy.

Although a portion of the jobs lost during the Great Recession have returned, many of those jobs are lower paying and salaries out here in the real world are not growing.

Yet despite that reality, Governor Malloy, with the full support of the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly, pushed through a budget that was based on rosy and overly optimist projections that the economy was so strong that Connecticut would “grow” its way out of the budget problems.

Nothing could have been further from the truth then and their irresponsible maneuver means the “chickens are coming home to roost” now.

And make no mistake, none of this was a secret.

The Wait, What? post on June 3, 2015 – The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget and the Wait, What? post on June 29, 2015 – CT’s Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse and

While people across the political spectrum can debate over how best to deal with the growing budget crisis, no real solution will be adopted until Governor Malloy stops lying to Connecticut residents and promotes a discussion based on the truth.

Of course, that appears to be something he is simply incapable of doing.

A reader asks their Legislator – Why did you bail on Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers?

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Bill Morrison is an outstanding educator and education advocate.

A regular reader and participant on the Wait, What? blog, Bill recently followed up on the post Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam, to ask his state legislator why they simply turned their back on their constituents when Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate education experience.

If everyone would take such action, legislators across the state would understand that their subservient behavior to Malloy’s whims was unacceptable.

What follows is Bill’s correspondence with his legislator followed by a breakdown of how legislators voted on the veto override effort.

From Bill Morrison:

I wrote the following letter to my Representative. He was one who failed to even show up.

Dear Representative Ryan,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a registered Democrat, a constituent, and I voted for you. I am also retired Navy, and I am a public high school history and social studies teacher.

That said, I am extremely disappointed that my state legislature allowed itself to be bullied into not overriding Malloy’s veto of the Bill setting minimum professional standards for State Commissioners of Education. As a professional educator, I am heartily sick and tired of Malloy’s targeting us for persecution, demonization, and vilification. I am sick of him undermining our strong efforts, especially in urban schools. And, I am disillusioned that a Democrat governor could so obviously pander to corrupt corporate interests through his immense support of charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing. In short, I am very disgusted by my own Party because of its sycophancy towards Malloy and corporate interests.

Yesterday, the legislature voted not to override Malloy’s veto, with many Democrats not even showing up for the vote. As you are aware, Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, was extremely unqualified for the position, and he wreaked havoc in Connecticut’s public schools. His appointment was on obvious conflict of interest because of his affiliation with Achievement First Charter Schools (a corporation that gained financially because of Malloy’s and Pryor’s influence), and he was manifestly not qualified for the position because of his not having any background in education. I had hoped that the legislature would stand up for the Connecticut’s citizens instead of slavishly pandering to Malloy. Instead of doing the right thing for Connecticut’s children, families, and schools, Democrats would not even stand up for a Bill that they had drafted in the first place, a Bill that passed the Senate unanimously with all but five dissenters in the Legislature.

I feel nothing but shame for my Party, and I sincerely hope that Democrats learn from this that they need to return to their roots and support their true constituents not big money.

Bill Morrison

While nearly every Republican legislator voted in favor of students, parents and teachers, the vast majority of Democratic legislators reversed their support or simply failed to show up when the vote to override Malloy’s veto was taken.

Here is more information about how legislators voted;

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included; 

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/

And scroll down for form to use to identify your elected officials

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