Connecticut Budget Deficits – As far as the eye can see!

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Despite the political spin that he had put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, Governor Dannel Malloy has presided over a continuous sea of red ink when it comes to the Connecticut state budget.

As Keith Phaneuf explains in a recent CT Mirror article entitled, CT budget closes in deficit again; little reserves left for this year,

“The governor insisted throughout his 2014 re-election campaign that nonpartisan deficit forecasts were wrong, and that growth projections for Connecticut’s economy — and correspondingly for state revenues — were too conservative.

But state government has had nothing but deficits since the governor’s re-election. Connecticut closed the 2015 fiscal year with the General Fund $113.2 million in the red.

Malloy began to acknowledge in the summer of 2015 that the economic growth he’d predicted was lagging, and by January 2016 he’d begun declaring repeatedly that Connecticut faced a “new economic reality” of modest growth. The Democratic governor’s Republican critics say this economic shift was evident years earlier and that the governor would not admit it until after he had won a second term.”

The actual numbers paint a stark and depressing picture:

Connecticut’s string of budgets in deficit:

Fiscal Year15   $113 Million Deficit

Fiscal Year16   $170 Million Deficit

Fiscal Year17   Present year – Deficit (To Be Admitted)

Fiscal Year18   $1.3 Billion Deficit (Projected)

Fiscal Year19   $1.6 Billion Deficit (Projected)

Despite two record tax increases and unparalleled budget cuts over the last six years, Connecticut is facing a budget shortfall of about $3 Billion in the next budget cycle.

Adding to the fiscal crisis is the fact that Governor Malloy and the Democratic members of the General Assembly have left Connecticut with a “Rainy Day Fund” of only $236 million, or about 1.3 percent of the state’s annual operating costs.  Comptroller Kevin Lembo recommends that Connecticut’s “Rainy Day Fund” should be in the range of 15 percent of annual operating expenses, a number which means that Connecticut has a fund that is less than 10 percent of what we should have set aside for difficult economic times.

And yet, in response, Malloy continues to downplay the problem, with his spokesperson telling the CT Mirror

 “The year that ended on June 30, 2016, was an extraordinarily difficult one,” Malloy spokesman Chris McClure said. “Income tax receipts were $650 million below budget, and the state was repeatedly compelled to take difficult steps to mitigate a developing deficit. We should be gratified that the hard work of state workers and the commitment of the legislature helped us to preserve more than $200 million of our Rainy Day fund, even in the pouring rain.

“We will continue to hold the line on the budget to ensure we fulfill our solemn obligation to balance the budget for FY17,” McClure said. “Our most current budget estimate, issued September 20th, is that the state is on track to meet its budget targets for FY17.”

However, the fiscal reality is that Connecticut’s budget is not on target.

Malloy and public relations team are intentionally overlooking the news that revenues are falling short and expenses are actually going to be significantly higher than authorized.

It would not be at all surprising if this year’s shortfall exceeds $200 million, eating up the remaining $236 million in the “Rainy Day Fund.”

But with Election Day a month away, look for Malloy to duck any mention of this year’s budget deficit until after November 8, 2016.

Then, and only then, will the people of Connecticut be told about Connecticut’s continuing budget deficits.

Is it pure stupidity or political expediency that led the legislature to cut its oversight of the Malloy administration?

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CT Newsjunkie columnist Sara Darer Littman digs deeper into the incredible decision by Connecticut’s legislative leaders to dump the professional staff of its Program Review and Investigations Committee rather than trim the legislature’s partisan, political staff.

As explained in last week’s Wait, What? post entitled, Surprise!  CT Legislature decides to function in the dark,

As the former House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigation Committee, I’ve waited with baited breath as Connecticut’s legislative leaders’ contemplated ways to trim their generous legislative branch budget.

One option facing the Democratic-controlled Legislative Management Committee was to reduce the number of partisan, political staff that serve as the part-time legislator’s year-around aides.

Alternatively, legislative leaders announced that would have to consider taking the unprecedented and illogical step of eliminating the professional staff who work for the critically important Program Review and Investigation Committee, the primary entity that allows the legislature to investigate and oversee Executive Branch programs.

What, oh what, would legislative leaders do when faced with such a “difficult” decision?

Should they take a small step that might reduce their power of incumbency or decide it is better to simply fly blind when it comes to the Legislative Branch’s oversight function?

With the stark headline, CT legislature’s chief investigative panel to lose all staffthe CT Mirror reported on the recent decision made by the legislative leaders.

CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

State legislative leaders have eliminated the General Assembly’s chief investigative arm, reassigning most of the Program Review and Investigations Committee’s 11-member staff to other duties in coming months.

The committee was established 44 years ago over the veto of then-Gov. Thomas Meskill.

In her follow up to the initial news, Sara Darer Littman writes;

The bottom line is that fewer analysts will be looking at the financial consequences of our state legislation and programs, which cannot possibly be viewed as a good thing by any rational taxpayer.

What makes this move particularly disturbing, especially in light of what’s been happening with the state’s economic incentives, is that the program review staff would have been assigned to review hundreds of millions of dollars in business tax incentives if Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s bill — which was passed by both houses of the legislature — had not been subsequently vetoed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Some of us are old enough to remember when the Governor came to office pledging to run an “open and transparent” government.

Sara Darer Littman goes on to lay bare the vague rationale behind the legislature’s recent decision to destroy their oversight function.  Her piece raises serious questions that every legislator should be forced to answer.

You can read and comment on her commentary piece at:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_budget_changes_hamstring_good_government/

 

 

Surprise!  CT Legislature decides to function in the dark

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As the former House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigation Committee, I’ve waited with baited breath as Connecticut’s legislative leaders’ contemplated ways to trim their generous legislative branch budget.

One option facing the Democratic-controlled Legislative Management Committee was to reduce the number of partisan, political staff that serve as the part-time legislator’s year-around aides.

Alternatively, legislative leaders announced that would have to consider taking the unprecedented and illogical step of eliminating the professional staff who work for the critically important Program Review and Investigation Committee, the primary entity that allows the legislature to investigate and oversee Executive Branch programs.

What, oh what, would legislative leaders do faced with such a “difficult” decision?

Should they take a small step that might reduce their power of incumbency or decide it is better to simply fly blind when it comes to the Legislative Branch’s oversight function.

With the stark headline, CT legislature’s chief investigative panel to lose all staff, the CT Mirror is now reporting the recent decision made by the legislative leaders.

CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

State legislative leaders have eliminated the General Assembly’s chief investigative arm, reassigning most of the Program Review and Investigations Committee’s 11-member staff to other duties in coming months.

The committee was established 44 years ago over the veto of then-Gov. Thomas Meskill.

The moves cap months of negotiations over the program review office between leaders of the Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate.

The $19.76 billion state budget enacted in May for the 2016-17 fiscal year includes a vague directive that the Legislative Branch achieve $750,000 in savings. Democratic leaders initially announced it would be achieved by eliminating six of the 12 program review staff posts.

[The] alternative, ultimately, was to eliminate the committee’s staff but let most of them remain in state employment.

[…]

During the last recession, program review staff recommended changes involving prescription drug purchasing and transitioning more nursing home patients into home care that saved just over $200 million in 2010 and 2011 combined, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

But legislative leaders have said tough fiscal decisions had to be made.

[…]

Sharkey and Looney said they value the program review office’s work but they also felt the legislative branch’s portion of the budget — albeit a small one — should sacrifice in the same way as the rest of state government.

The Republican minorities in the House and Senate had recommended cutting the entire program review operation in an alternative budget plan.

By eliminating the Program Review and Investigations Committee’s professional staff, Connecticut’s elected state senators and state representatives have taken another giant step in giving up their constitutional duty to review and investigate the actions taken by Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut’s Executive Branch of government.

Another victory for government secrecy in Connecticut?

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The CT Mirror headline reads; Fate of legislature’s investigative arm hangs on budget battle.

As background, in 1992 I served as the House Chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly Program Review and Investigation Committee.  In many respects it is one of the most important committees in the legislative branch of government.  The bi-partisan committee and its professional staff are tasked with providing the legislature with the ability to review and investigate administrative agencies, programs and policies and the committee serves as a unique mechanism to counter the power of the Governor and his control over all state activities.

But as a result of their disastrous budget agreement, Malloy and Democratic leaders took a major step toward undermining, even destroying, this important vehicle of transparency.

As the CT Mirror explains;

The fate of the legislature’s chief investigative arm probably will be determined in the next few weeks as top leaders decide whether to impose a cut that would chop the nonpartisan agency in half.

Meanwhile, the House’s longest-serving current member, Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, insists House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey’s office assured her the planned reduction to the Program Review and Investigation Committee staff would be significantly muted — in exchange for her support for the new state budget.

But the speaker, who is retiring after this year, said last week his office never made that pledge. And while he said he would try, nonetheless, to ease the fiscal pain, it is doubtful that several of the 12 positions in the investigative office won’t be eliminated.

In the short term, undermining the Program Review and Investigation Committee would derail important legislative reviews including studies into the State’s school desegregation programs; long-term care services; substance abuse prevention services and the state’s handling of discrimination complaints.

But the far more serious issue is that by decimating the Program Review Committee’s staffing and mission, the legislature would be taking another giant leap backwards in its duty to monitor and investigate the actions of the administrative branch of government.

But less executive branch oversight and less independence for the state’s clean government agencies appears to be one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s prime objectives. Unfortunately Democratic leaders have done little to subdue Malloy’s unprecedented attack on open and honest government.

As for the Program Review and Investigations Committee, according to the CT Mirror’s latest coverage,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature struggled to eliminate a nearly $1 billion hole in the 2016-17 fiscal year without raising taxes. And the $19.76 billion budget they enacted funds most departments and agencies below the level originally promised for that fiscal year.

When Sharkey and Looney announced a tentative budget agreement with the Malloy administration during the waning hours of the regular legislative session in early May, one of the cuts they announced was $750,000 to be achieved by eliminating half of the program review office’s 12 jobs.

Both Sharkey and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said they highly value program review’s work.

But they also felt the legislative branch’s portion of the budget — albeit a small one — should sacrifice in the same way the rest of state government was.

However, rather than cut out more of the top heavy political operation within the House and Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses, the legislative leaders, apparently with Republican leadership support, are seeking to preserve the money spent of guaranteeing the power of incumbency and achieving the savings incorporated in the new state budget by going after the Program Review and Investigations Committee.

You can read the complete CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/07/11/fate-of-legislatures-investigative-arm-hangs-on-budget-battle/

Malloy’s 2015-2016 state budget off by nearly a billion dollars

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When Governor Dannel Malloy signed THIS YEAR’S state budget he said it was balanced…but he wasn’t telling the truth.

In fact, it was off by nearly a billion dollars.  Budget cuts and layoffs have reduced some of the gap, but when the year ends in ten days – on June 30, 2016 – the state will need to grab much of Connecticut’s “rainy day” fund to balance the books.

As CT Newjunkie reports;

Connecticut’s budget deficit has grown to $315.8 million and the state will have to use more of the Rainy Day Fund than expected to cover the shortfall in this year’s budget.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said Monday that the deficit has increased by about $56.7 million from last month’s estimates. It means the state will only have about $90.2 million left in its Rainy Day Fund because it will have to use $315.8 million of the $406 million Rainy Day Fund to close the deficit.

In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Barnes said that revenues continue to decline. The personal income tax is down about $75 million and the sales tax is down about $28.2 million.

But the even more serious problem is with the budget that begins on July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2017 (FY17 budget).

Again, Malloy and the Democrats have done Connecticut an extraordinary disservice by not setting up a revenue and expenditure plan that balances.

The establishment will try to keep the magnitude of the problem secret until after the November legislative elections, but despite massive layoffs and record cuts to public schools, human services and healthcare, the austerity budget that Malloy and the Democrats passed this spring – and claimed produced a balanced budget – is at least a quarter of a million ($250m) dollars out of balance.

With only $90 million left in the raining day fund, Malloy and his team has created a situation in which they have allowed him to drain the state’s reserves and burden Connecticut’s taxpayers with a massive deficit in the coming fiscal year.

Keith Phaneuf adds more in his article entitled, Outgoing CT budget deficit swells, hints at more red ink to come

The fact is that fiscal irresponsibility is major barrier to economic activity.

The state, its business community and especially its taxpayers would have been better off if Malloy had dealt honestly with the need for appropriate revenue to ensure vital services were maintained and the budget was balanced.

Malloy says NO oversight of his administration is allowed – Comptroller Kevin Lembo says what the ____!

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Yesterday – June 9, 2016 – Governor Dannel Malloy, who once pledged to run the most transparent administration in history, vetoed an extremely important piece of legislation that would have ensured that there was proper oversight over Malloy’s outrageous corporate welfare and economic development programs.

As the CT Mirror Reported,

“State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo called the veto “deeply troubling” and a blow against transparency. “

According to the news story;

“Malloy also wrote that transferring the analysis of tax credits from DECD to Program Review was “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

That drew a rebuke from Lembo, a fellow Democrat who testified at a public hearing in March favor of giving the job to Program Review, a bipartisan committee with a staff of non-partisan researchers and analysts.

“If objectivity really matters, we always want an independent third party to evaluate our work,” Lembo said Thursday in an emailed statement. “This is why teachers grade tests and students don’t just assign their own grades. Furthermore, this is a terrible loss of transparency where we need it most.”

Lembo said the veto, following a decision to provide $22 million in state bond funds to a rich hedge fund over his objection, is “deeply troubling.”

“The state owes it to businesses and all taxpayers to fully analyze the return on investment that these sizable and important programs actually deliver in order to assess whether such resources are fulfilling their intended purpose or, if not, whether state funds would be better deployed to other economic development or infrastructure investment,” Lembo said.

Malloy’s latest effort to keep Connecticut’s citizens in the dark about how badly government is managed comes on the heels of an incredible move by Malloy (and the Democrats in the legislature) to literally prohibit the “Independent” Office of Fiscal Analysis from warning elected officials and the public about upcoming budget deficits.

As a May 12, 2016 Wait, What? article reported;

Meanwhile, the same outrageous implementation budget bill includes unprecedented language that allows cities and towns to simply cut their local public school budgets by the amount of any reduction in state aid to those schools.

This means that while a number of cities and towns will be getting a major pot of cash dumped on the non-education side of the budget, they won’t even have to maintain their efforts to fund their schools.

And if those two sections weren’t telling enough, any member of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives who votes in favor of this bill will be taking the truly unprecedented step of adopting a law that would literally PROHIBIT the non-partisan office of Fiscal Analysis from reporting on future budget expenditures and possible deficits that are the result of the annual increases that go with maintaining current services.

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

With no public hearing, no public input and no public notice, Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have included language in this year’s budget implementation bill that intentionally prevents the media and the public from knowing the true ongoing costs of state government.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains this incredible development in his latest article;

Future state deficit forecasts are likely to shrink significantly under a method imposed in the new state budget plan that disregards billions of dollars in annual expenditures not fixed by contract or federal mandate.

The language, proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is included in an omnibus policy bill to help implement the proposed $19.76 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, blasted the measure — which was released only a few hours before the Senate was expected to debate it Wednesday morning — as a means to hide Connecticut’s fiscal woes from the public.

Malloy and his budget director, Benjamin Barnes, have been critical for several years of the deficit-forecasting methodology used by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

OFA generally tries to assess both the current and future costs of all programs, staffing, grants and other expenditures, whether fixed by contract or federal requirement, or simply set by state law.

The new methodology would disregard cost increases in most state programs, excepting debt service, retirement benefits and federal entitlement programs.

“Moving away from ‘current services’ will help us ensure that government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot,” the governor said Wednesday.  “As part the budget agreement, the state will change how it does business, and give residents and businesses the predictability they seek as government works to live within its means.”

The language is nothing but a blatant effort by Malloy and the Democratic legislature to hide the true costs of maintaining state services and preventing voters from understanding the ramifications of taxes and spending.

Dismissing the most fundamental notions of open government and democracy, Malloy and the Democratic leaders are engaged in a new political strategy based on keeping the citizens ignorant about how their government functions and how it spends their money.

No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.

But Democrat Malloy and Democratic legislators voted for Malloy’s maneuver and now Malloy has added salt to the wound by making sure no one outside of his own administration reviews the corporate give-away-program that is costing Connecticut taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again!

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Hidden deep inside the new state budget bill negotiated by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders, and approved last month by the Democrats in the General Assembly, was a provision that, once again, transferred the money that had been set aside to help school districts retrofit school buses with seat belts into the general fund.

As Wait, What? readers know, this is not the first time Governor Malloy and the Democrats have stolen the School Bus Seatbelt Account in order to make the state budget balance.

Since taking office, Malloy has reached into the special school seat belt fund four times, grabbing close to $10 million dollars.

Rather than use the funds for their intended use – to protect our children – Malloy and the Democrats simply grabbed the money to plug holes in the state budget.

This time, rather than adopt a fair and honest budget, the Democrats added Section 28 to Senate Bill 501 which “transferred” $2 million from the School Bus Seatbelt Account to the General Fund.  The legislature also swept $2 million from the Seat Belt fund to address a small part of the $250 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget deficit.

Previous Wait, What articles on this issue can be found via the following links:

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!] (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/14/2014)

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority? (12/20/2012)

The School Bus Seat Belt Account was created following the tragic January 2010 school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools.  Following the accident, the Connecticut legislature kicked into action, passing 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 that the funds be used 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, using the extra $50 per person to create a funding stream for the important program.

Now six years later, no school bus seat belts have been installed, thanks to the fact that Connecticut’s governor and legislature have stolen nearly $10 million from the fund.

When these elected officials come looking for support, ask them why they didn’t do more to stop this outrage.

Will Malloy and Dems cover up new state budget deficit until after the November election?

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As Keith Phaneuf of the CT Mirror is reporting in a new investigative piece entitled, Pace of state layoffs slower than planned as one deadline nears, Governor Dannel Malloy’s inability to successfully manage the state budget problems will mean that the budget deficit that is hidden in the coming fiscal year’s spending plan will be significantly larger than previously reported.

The new state budget that begins on July 1, 2016, a plan that was adopted by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, not only makes record cuts to public education and a variety of critically important health and human services for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, it is a budget that is actually out of balance by at least $250 million.

Just a few weeks ago, having pronounced the new state budget, Malloy and the Democrats pronounced it balanced, padded themselves on the back for a job well done, and left Hartford behind to focus their attention on this fall’s legislative elections.

However, the harsh reality is that the new state budget not only fails to adequately fund the programs and services that Connecticut citizens need and deserve, but the deficit hidden inside the new budget is so large that Malloy will need to implement record budget reductions on top of the record budget cuts that he and his allies have already adopted, or they will need to return to the Capitol to raise taxes, before or after the November election.

Although the most immediate question is whether Malloy and legislative leaders will even admit that their spending plan is a failure or whether they will try to hide the magnitude of the new budget deficit until after the November elections

As Phaneuf explains;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s efforts to reduce the state’s workforce are progressing more slowly than originally planned — an issue that could worsen a likely deficit this fiscal year and pose a bigger threat to finances after July 1.

As of June 1, 693 Executive Branch workers and 239 in the Judicial Branch have received layoff notices, a total of 932. That’s only about half of the 1,900-to-2,000 layoffs the governor said two months ago that he anticipated being ordered by June 10.

[…]

Budget counts on big labor savings

But the fiscal implications of reducing the state workforce — and of not doing so — are huge.

According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, just under 2,000 layoffs would save $133 million per year.

The new $19.76 billion budget Malloy and legislators crafted for 2016-17 cut $255 million from departmental salary accounts and also assumes the administration will find another $69 million in “general employee” savings.

Several legislators, including Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, conceded this budget assumes more in labor savings than the administration’s layoff plan would provide — even if all layoffs are achieved.

If the labor savings are not in place, the new budget could be out of balance significantly before the fiscal year even begins.

“The new budget could be out of balance significantly before the fiscal year even begins.”

And out of balance it will be…

The effort by Malloy and the legislature’s Democratic leaders to claim that they would reduce the state budget by $324 thanks to state employee layoffs and concessions ($255 million from salary accounts and $69 million from “general employee” savings) was irresponsible and nothing short of a gimmick.

The plan was just another example of how their rhetoric and political spin has been designed to withhold and cover up the truth.

And the truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy has been consistently unable or unwilling to provide Connecticut with a balanced state budget.

In the months leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election, Malloy famously said – and reiterated on a daily basis – that there was no state budget deficit, nor would there be one if the voters gave him a second term in office.

During his re-election campaign, Malloy also promised that he would never, ever raise taxes again – a true “Read My Lips” moment considering there are even “revenue enhancements” in this year’s failed budget, not to mention the massive shift of costs onto the backs of local property taxpayers that will be required to make up some of the cuts to public schools.

It was only days after the November 2014 election that Malloy and his political operatives finally begin to admit that they were sitting on a sea of red ink.

When the state’s books were actually closed on that year’s budget, the final state budget deficit exceeded $110 million.

This year, even after Malloy and the legislature implemented massive cuts to state services and approved unprecedented numbers of state employee layoffs, the state budget will end up more than $260 million in deficit.

As Phaneuf explains in his CT Mirror story, Connecticut’s Rainy Day fund stood at about $520 million on Election Day 2014 – the day Malloy was given his second term in office by claiming there was no budget deficit, nor would there be one if he was re-elected.

But after the Connecticut Rainy Day Fund was used to cover last year’s deficit and will be used, again, to cover this year’s deficit, the total amount left in the state’s savings account will be in the range of $145 million, far less than the $250 plus million deficit that is already built into this coming year’s budget plan.

It sounds a bit complex, but it isn’t.

The decision to coddle the rich, reduce funding for public schools, undermine the state’s most vital programs, and layoff state employees, while knowingly saddling taxpayers with yet another large budget deficit is unconscionable.

Unfortunately, the question is not whether Connecticut will need to address this continuing fiscal crisis.  The only issue is whether Malloy will, once again, try to hide the deficit from the public until after this year’s elections are over.

I suppose the other question is whether the voters will fall for this ploy yet again

There is a reason the phrase, “enough is enough” came into being….

For additional background read the CT Mirror story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/06/02/pace-of-state-layoffs-slower-than-planned-as-one-deadline-nears/

CT Legislators who voted in favor of the disastrous state budget should be defeated – Period

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The twenty-one Democratic members of the Connecticut State Senate have thrown their constituents aside by voting in favor of the budget agreement that was developed by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature’s Democratic leadership.  The budget is an appalling, mean-spirited and irresponsible plan that stabs the people of Connecticut in the back and violates the fundamental responsibility that elected officials have to do what is right for their constituents and the state of Connecticut.

Later today – Friday May 13, 2016 – the Connecticut House of Representatives will voting on this unprecedented attack on public education, vital health and human services and fiscal honesty and transparency.

Despite the lies coming from Malloy and his loyalists, the state budget does not balance nor does it put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.

What it does do is undermine Connecticut’s children, our state’s most vulnerable citizens, public employees and the programs and policies designed to make Connecticut a healthy, safer and better place to live.

It is a vicious, stupid and short-sighted spending plan that mimics the values of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rather than the people of Connecticut.

Malloy, with the help of Democratic legislators, is ushering in an era of austerity that will hurt people and further erode Connecticut’s future and wellbeing.

Any legislator who votes for this budget voids their right to be called a representative of the people.

For More Read;

Dems slash education funding, sneak special 10% admission tax for Hartford and gag future information on deficits

Any CT legislator who votes for the proposed State Budget deserves to lose in November

Senate Passes Budget; House Up Next (CT Newsjunkie)

A handshake, then a vote on Connecticut’s next budget (CT Mirror)

Last-minute bill would rein in CT budget deficit forecasts (CT Mirror)

 

Dems slash education funding, sneak special 10% admission tax for Hartford and gag future information on deficits

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“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Beware fellow citizens…

The disastrous state budget plan developed by Governor Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly is getting worse by the minute.

Having managed to hide key budget details from the public until the day of the vote, Democratic legislators are now being instructed to approve a budget implementation bill that includes numerous outrageous provisions that would never pass if they stood on their own.

Traditionally referred to as “rats,” select legislators, lobbyists and special interests use what is called “back of the budget” language to circumvent the traditional legislative process.

A prime example of this tactic can be found in Section 188 of the new state budget bill.

Connecticut residents may remember how Governor Malloy and other state leaders endorsed the construction of the new baseball stadium in Hartford, falsely stating that not only would the facility be a win-win for the Capitol City, but that Connecticut taxpayers would not be on the hook for subsidizing the project.

Of course, such was not the case.

Legislative language hidden deep inside today’s budget bill exempts events at the Dunkin Donut stadium from having to collect Connecticut’s 10 percent Admission Tax and, instead, sets up a new law that allows Hartford to add its own 10 percent surcharge on all tickets sold at the “Home of the Yard Goats.”

The money from this extra tax would flow straight to Hartford City Hall…. Providing the boondoggle with a much-needed public subsidy from Connecticut taxpayers

To sweeten the deal, the Malloy/Democratic leadership budget also adds a provision that a group of other cities could put on their own admission tax in their particular venues, but the others could only collect up to 5% of the cost of a ticket.

Meanwhile, the same outrageous implementation budget bill includes unprecedented language that allows cities and towns to simply cut their local public school budgets by the amount of any reduction in state aid those schools.

This means that while a number of cities and towns will be getting a major pot of cash dumped on the non-education side of the budget, they won’t even have to maintain their efforts to fund their schools.

And if those two sections weren’t telling enough, any member of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives who votes in favor of this bill will be taking the truly unprecedented step of adopting a law that would literally PROHIBIT the non-partisan office of Fiscal Analysis from reporting on future budget expenditures and possible deficits that are the result of the annual increases that go with maintaining current services.

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

With no public hearing, no public input and no public notice, Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have including language in this year’s budget implementation bill that intentionally prevents the media and the public from knowing the true ongoing costs of state government.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains this incredible development in his latest article;

Future state deficit forecasts are likely to shrink significantly under a method imposed in the new state budget plan that disregards billions of dollars in annual expenditures not fixed by contract or federal mandate.

The language, proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is included in an omnibus policy bill to help implement the proposed $19.76 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, blasted the measure — which was released only a few hours before the Senate was expected to debate it Wednesday morning — as a means to hide Connecticut’s fiscal woes from the public.

Malloy and his budget director, Benjamin Barnes, have been critical for several years of the deficit-forecasting methodology used by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

OFA generally tries to assess both the current and future costs of all programs, staffing, grants and other expenditures, whether fixed by contract or federal requirement, or simply set by state law.

The new methodology would disregard cost increases in most state programs, excepting debt service, retirement benefits and federal entitlement programs.

“Moving away from ‘current services’ will help us ensure that government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot,” the governor said Wednesday.  “As part the budget agreement, the state will change how it does business, and give residents and businesses the predictability they seek as government works to live within its means.”

The language is nothing but a blatant effort by Malloy and the Democratic legislature to hide the true costs of maintaining state services and preventing voters from understanding the ramifications of taxes and spending.

Dismissing the most fundamental notions of open government and democracy, Malloy and the Democratic leaders are engaged in a new political strategy based on keeping the citizens ignorant about how their government functions and how it spends their money.

No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.

Today’s original Wait, What? post is even more relevant than when it was first posted.

Any CT legislator who votes for the proposed State Budget deserves to lose in November

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