Careening down the wrong path as Education Reform Industry spends more money to buy public policy

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Connecticut has become a striking example of what is truly wrong with the way government and public policy functions in the United States today.

Rather than using the state motto, “Qui transtulit sustinet – He who is transplanted still sustains,” the Constitution State could easily shift to, “Step right up and buy your public policy here.”

And presiding over the entire farce is a governor devoted to coddling the rich, while lying to the people.

Victorious thanks to a campaign in which he repeatedly claimed there was no budget deficit, promised that he wouldn’t raise taxes or cut critical state services, Governor Dannel Malloy is now ducking a budget deficit that is skyrocketing.  Malloy’s next step will be to raid the state’s Rainy Day Fund to balance this year’s budget, or worse, he will put the massive deficit on the state’s credit card thereby dumping even more debt on the backs of Connecticut’s overly burdened middle class.

And as for next year, while the state’s fiscal situation deteriorates, Malloy’s proposed state budget includes massive and unacceptable cuts to a wide variety of state services.

Rather than offer up a plan to ensure that services are maintained by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, Malloy is berating legislators or anyone else who challenges the house of cards he has built.

When it comes to the budget related to public education, Malloy’s proposed budget actually REDUCES spending on public schools by well over $150 million over the next two years, the largest such cut in history.

Yet Malloy has proposed INCREASED spending on charter schools by more than 25 percent.

As if to highlight the modern system of “pay-to-play” policy making, while Malloy turns his back on Connecticut public school students, parents and teachers, the corporate education reform industry is pouring even more money into their unending quests to privatize public education and denigrate teachers.

The corporate funded New York based entity called Families for Excellent Schools has set up yet another “education reform” front group in Connecticut.  This one is called “Coalition for Every Child.”

According to the latest reports filed with the Office of State Ethics, this organization has spent over a quarter of a million dollars lobbying in just the past eight days.  The pro-Common Core, pro-Charter School group has even hired Malloy’s chief adviser, as well as Malloy’s former press secretary, to run their PR campaign in support of Malloy’s plan to divert even more scarce public dollars to charter schools companies.

Three other corporate education reform industry groups, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN), the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), and Achievement First, Inc. (the charter school management company with strong ties to the Malloy administration,) have spent nearly $100,000 more in recent weeks in a lobbying program designed to persuade legislators that it is good idea for them to cut funding for their own public schools, while increasing the taxpayer subsidy for the privately run charter schools.

What are Malloy’s education reform supporters doing and saying with all their money?

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform is using its money to tell parents that the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test (SBAC) is a good thing even though it will label the majority of children as failures. (See: No, the Common Core SBAC test is not like a blood test.)

Meanwhile, ConnCAN and the rest of the charter school industry are using their hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote Malloy’s disgraceful budget and lobbying to stop the Connecticut legislature from pausing the development of further charter schools in the state.

Following the charter school industry’s success in preventing a charter school moratorium bill from passing the General Assembly’s Education Committee, the co-CEO and president of Achievement First Inc., the Executive Director of ConnCAN and state director for the Northeast Charter School Association all gleefully issued press releases cheering on the fact that the Malloy administration can continue its efforts to expand the number of publicly funded, but privately owned charter schools in the state.

Dacia Toll, co-CEO and president of Achievement First, Inc. the charter school management company that collects the lion’s share of the $100 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds spent on charter schools explained that, “The moratorium on public charter schools would have been a huge step backward.”

A huge step backward for the company’s bottom line that is…

While Malloy’s proposed budget actually INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING BY $36 million…

Malloy’s proposed budget cuts tens of millions of dollars to public schools including the following programs;

Reduces funding for the CT Pre-Engineering Program

Reduces Youth Service Bureau programs

Reduces funding for the Parent Trust Fund

Reduces funding for Neighborhood Youth Centers

Reduces funding for Science Program for Educational Reform Districts

Reduces funding for Wrap Around Services

Reduces funding for Parent Universities

Reduces funding for the School Health Coordinator Pilot

Reduces funding for Regional-Technical Cooperation

Reduces funding for Alternative High School and Adult Reading

Reduces funding for Youth Service Bureau Enhancement

Reduces funding for Health Foods Initiative

Reduces funding for School to Work Opportunities

Reduces funding for Commissioner’s Network Schools

Reduces the Priority School District funding for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School

Reduces funding regional interdistrict grant to reduce segregation

Reduces funding for the Leadership, Education, Athletic-Partnership (LEAP)

And the list goes on….and on…

And the Corporate Education Reform Industry is silent on these devastating cuts.

Their plan is simple – more money for charter school companies – cuts to public school programs and higher property taxes for the rest of us.

Connecticut has truly become the land where “step right up, buy your public policy” has become the standard.

LOL – Malloy says spending cap made him propose record cuts to state library

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In a Connecticut Post article earlier this week entitled Malloy defends library cuts, librarians plan rally, Governor Dannel Malloy, “defended his proposed $3.5 million cut to the State Library System…claiming that the lingering effects of the recession and constitutional limits on increased spending forced his hand.

[..]

“Speaking at a lunch break in daylong seminar on the future of Connecticut libraries, Malloy recalled loving Stamford’s Ferguson Library while growing up…”

But Norwalk’s Librarian observed that the Governor’s proposed million-dollar cut in interlibrary loans, “could set the system back 40 years.”

To that Malloy washed his hands of responsibility saying the state’s spending cap required him to make the cuts.

Sadly the librarians didn’t know that the lame excuse was coming from a governor who has used every gimmick in the book, and some new ones to boot, in order to get around the state’s spending cap during his first four years in office.

At least the news report makes no mention of the librarians putting their fingers to their mouths to shush the governor for failing to tell the truth.

At the very least librarians, and all Connecticut citizens, should go back and read some of the articles written by the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf.

Not long ago Phaneuf explained, “While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy portrayed the spending cap as an unavoidable constraint on the next state budget, governors and legislators from both parties have skirted that constraint repeatedly for a decade.”

During Malloy’s first term he got around the spending cap by simply “moving spending outside of the cap.”  As the CT Mirror reported, Malloy’s tactics included the following;

  • Redirecting $78 million owed to charter schools to cities and towns, which then forwarded the funds to the charter schools. Since state aid to poor municipalities is cap exempt, almost 60 percent, about $45 million, moved outside of the cap.
  • Moving a federally funded health care program for poor adults outside of the budget reduced spending under the cap by $446 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Lawmakers proposed this change and Malloy signed it into law.
  • Borrowing $86 million per year to fund municipal aid increases. Borrowed funds are outside of the budget. Otherwise grants given to all but the poorest communities, would have counted against the cap.
  • Proposing that $60 million in revenues in 2014-15 be intercepted before technically being recorded in the budget — and counted against the cap — and spending them off budget instead to support the state university system. The legislature declined to adopt this proposal

Phaneuf notes that,

“Since 2011, the Democratic governor has proposed or signed into law hundreds of millions of dollars in fiscal maneuvers to shift spending out from under the cap.”

And he adds,

“And GOP lawmakers have short memories…having voted overwhelmingly to adopt a 2007 budget that shattered the cap by almost $700 million — a record in the cap’s 25-year history.”

Not to be bothered by the truth, the “do as I say, not as I do” governor recently appeared on Ray Dunaway’s WTIC-AM 1080 morning show to explain that Connecticut’s legislators “are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the rules.”

“There’s a spending cap,” Malloy added. “… If we had a half-billion dollars more money, we can’t spend a half-billion dollars more money. So they’ve got to get used to the idea.”

This from the governor who broke the rules each and every year he was in office…Much like his predecessor, Governor Jodi Rell, who failed to keep spending within the cap as much as Malloy has.

Truth be told, Malloy’s decision to propose record cuts to the state library and a variety of other important and critical services is either because he actually doesn’t support those services or he is unwilling to come up with the revenue necessary to balance the state budget…

And he is unwilling to raise the revenue because he refuses to ensure that Connecticut’s wealthier residents pay their fair share in taxes.

It would be a lot simpler and more honest if Governor Malloy would simply tell the truth and admit that coddling the rich is more of an important priority for him than properly funding libraries, schools or a variety of human services.

Yes we are failing our children…especially here in Connecticut

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When Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the podium in February 2015 to announce his proposed austerity budget for the State of Connecticut he announced a plan in which more than half (54%) of his proposed budget cuts came from children’s programs.

More than half of Malloy’s total cuts aimed at programs to support children when, “spending on the ‘Children’s Budget’ – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget.”  [CT Voices]

In response to the criticism leveled at Malloy, a recent CTNewJunkie headline explained, “Malloy Administration Pitches ‘Lean’ Government, Denies Being Heavy Handed.”

Lean government, not being heavy handed?

According to recent economic data, the nation’s wealth grew by 60 percent over the past six years.  That translates into about $30 trillion of additional wealth, with the overwhelming majority of that money going to the country’s super rich.

During the same period, the number of homeless children grew by 60 percent. “For Every Two Homeless Children in 2006, There Are Now Three.” During this past winter approximately 138,000 children were defined as homeless by the US Department of Housing.

Children now account for nearly 50 percent the country’s food stamp recipients.  More than 16 million children get about $5 a day to pay for their meals, but that was before Congress and the President cut $8.6 billion from the food stamp program over the next ten years.

In 2007 about 12 in every 100 kids were on food stamps. Today that number stands at 20 in every 100 children.

According to UNICEF, the UN’s agency for children, the United States has one of the highest  child poverty rates in the developed world.  The report explains, “[Children’s] material well-being is highest in the Netherlands and in the four Nordic countries and lowest in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the United States.”

And Here in Connecticut… 

About 113,000 Connecticut children live in the lowest levels of poverty, or about 14.5 percent of all the state’s children…nearly one in every six children.

Connecticut’s child poverty rate is up nearly 50 percent from 2000 when the number of Connecticut children living in poverty was just over 10 percent.  At the time, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to adopt an official policy stating its goal was to reduce poverty by fifty percent by 2010.  Connecticut failed.  Rather than reducing child poverty by 50 percent, the level of child poverty has increased by 50 percent since we entered the 21st Century.

Today the level of child poverty is more than 47% in Hartford; 40% in Waterbury; and over 32% in Bridgeport, New Britain and New Haven.

Using a more appropriate definition of poverty, living under 200% of the federal poverty level, the harsh reality is that almost 1 in 3 Connecticut children are growing up at unacceptable levels of poverty.

Yet in the face of the mounting levels of child poverty, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy proposed more cuts to a variety of vital programs including those that are aimed at helping the state’s poorest children.

And is budget slashing comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay a far lower percent of their income in state and local taxes than the middle class and the poor and the rich are charged a much lower income tax rate then their brethren pay in New York and New Jersey.  The problem is that Malloy refuses to raise the income tax rate on the wealthy because, as he said before, he doesn’t want to “punish success.”

Connecticut’s elected officials can and must face the reality that we are failing our children.  They can start by requiring the state’s wealthiest residents to pay their fair share in taxes – thereby eliminating the need for cuts to children’s programs.  See – Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich.

And as for Malloy, one wonders if his only defense is the fact that he is not alone in his disdain for truly putting children first on the political agenda…

What is perhaps the most telling point of all is that there are two nations in the World who have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — South Sudan and the United States. 

[Numbers about child poverty at the federal level come from A Nation’s Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of Children in Poverty.]

Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich

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As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s failure to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, his proposed state budget includes disastrous cuts to vital state services and programs while continuing the policy of coddling the rich and unfairly burdening the middle class. While Malloy’s state budget proposal includes tens of millions more for wasteful and destructive programs like the Common Core, the Common Core SBAC testing and charter schools, Malloy put forward a budget that reduces funding for education and cuts deeply into programs that directly benefit Connecticut’s children. According to CT Voices for Children, a Connecticut based research organization, more than half of Malloy’s budget cuts (54%) are aimed at Connecticut’s children.  Add in the cuts for those with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges and the other budget cuts aimed at the state’s other vulnerable citizens and the legislature is forced to deal with a budget that Malloy and his administration should be ashamed of. At the same time, Malloy’s plan demands that the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly continue to undermine the state’s middle class and the economic well-being of their own constituents in order to “protect” Connecticut’s wealthiest residents. The data highlighting Connecticut’s regressive tax system is clear, concise and extremely disturbing. After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay an average of 5.5 percent for their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5 percent for middle-class families and more than 11.0 percent for the state’s poor. Rather than a progressive tax system, or even a flat tax system, Connecticut has developed a state and local tax system that allows the rich to skate free, while leaving the burden of balancing state and local budgets onto those who make far less. Keith Phaneuf reported the situation accurately when he wrote in today’s CT Mirror,

“Just before the income tax’s enactment (1991), the state taxed capital gains at 7 percent, and dividends and major interest income at rates as high as 14 percent. Those rates went away when the income tax was enacted. Earnings from these sources instead were subject to the top income tax rate, which stood in 1991 at 4.5 percent. The top rate has risen just three times in the 24 years since then – to 5 percent in 2003, 6.5 percent in 2009 and 6.7 percent in 2011 – and still remains below the old capital gains and dividends rates.”

The harsh reality is that Connecticut’s state and local tax system is designed to punish middle and lower income families. But Democratic legislators could push back against Malloy’s unfair budget policies. Connecticut’s top “marginal income tax rate” is 6.7 percent, a rate that is much lower than that in New York (8.82%) or New Jersey (8.97%).  Increasing the marginal income tax rate on Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers (those making more than $1 million) to bring it in line with New York State would bring in over $400 million a year. Eliminating a number of the useless sales tax exemptions that lobbyists have pushed through for their clients would raise another $400 million a year and ending some of the corporate welfare (tax expenditures) that Malloy has been doling out would mean that Connecticut could have a balanced budget that doesn’t destroy vital state services. The solution to Connecticut’s budget crisis is actually not hard to identify, but it does require conviction and honesty on the part of Connecticut’s elected officials…and that apparently is exactly what they are lacking. The next six weeks will determine what side of the battle the members of the Connecticut General Assembly will take.  The choice is simple.  Continue to follow Governor Malloy’s disastrous policies or actually come down on the side of their constituents and make the rich pay their fair share.

Governor Malloy Administration’s Gag Order is nothing short of Putinesque

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For even to the most cynical, the recent CT Mirror’s story entitled, “Is it a gag order or the Malloy administration speaking with one voice?” is utterly shocking and should make Connecticut residents extremely uncomfortable and very queasy.

The CTMirror article reiterates the reality that Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is not the Dan Malloy who asked voters to make him Connecticut’s governor in the 2010 election.

Dan Malloy, the candidate, ran on a platform that he would be the “most transparent governor in history.”  He claimed that he supported Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law, that he wanted stronger, not weaker, state ethics laws and that he believed that an honest, just and open government required strong Freedom of Information laws.

But since being sworn in as governor in January 2011, Dannel Malloy has become the least transparent governor in modern history, has consistently undermined and destroyed Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, made a mockery of the state’s ethics laws and has engaged in an unprecedented assault on the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

But his most anti-open government maneuver may very well be the news that Governor Malloy has allowed a directive to go out that prohibits his commissioners and other public employees from talking to legislators (or anyone else) about Malloy’s fraudulent state budget proposal.

As the CT Mirror reports;

Key legislators say a directive restricting what agency heads can tell legislators about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposal is hindering lawmakers in doing their jobs and will push more of the budget-writing process behind closed doors.

“Our job is to negotiate and evaluate and build the best budget possible for the 3.5 million people of Connecticut,” said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, House chair of the Appropriations Committee. “Denying us the ability to do that is denying us our responsibility and our authority as the legislature.”

“I think this is a politically correct gag order,” said Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam, ranking House Republican on the committee. “If we can’t get full answers to our questions, we can’t serve our residents and the state of Connecticut well.”

At issue is a memo Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy’s budget chief, sent last month to Executive Branch agency heads.”

In a stunningly inappropriate, unethical, immoral and arrogant demand, Malloy’s budget director writes, “Requests for new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds should be referred to OPM…Agencies are expected to support the Governor’s budget rather than providing alternatives to that budget.”

While there has always long been an unwritten guideline that political appointees try to defend their boss’ proposals, the notion that Malloy, through  his budget director, would direct public servants, who are paid with public dollars, whose statutory duty is to run a state agency and provide public services,  not to speak with legislators or others about, “new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds” is nothing short of Putinesque.

As for reaction from legislators, the CT Mirror adds,

“Referring to Barnes’ memo, Bye told The Mirror this week that she’s not surprised, “in tough fiscal times, that a chief executive wants to keep as much control as he can.”

But Bye added that the administration must appreciate that the legislature has its own constitutional charge to adopt a budget, and it must have more than just facts and data.

For example, if the Appropriations Committee is considering restoring two programs cut in the governor’s plan, but ultimately decides Connecticut only can afford one, members normally would ask officials in the affected agency which program might provide the most public benefit.

“If we are trying to choose between funding programs, it would be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives,” Bye said. “I think it would make for a better process.”

While State Senator Beth Bye’s conclusion that it would “be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives” is absolutely true, her comment that is a forgone conclusion that “a chief executive wants to keep as much control,” provides cover for Malloy’s reprehensible action.

Wanting to “control the dialogue” is a long way from interfering with the Constitutionally mandated role of the Connecticut General Assembly.

The CTMirror article concludes;

“Barnes wrote Tuesday in a statement to The Mirror that, “We work together, as one administration, with all our commissioners and agency heads. This is a budget filled with tough choices, but they are the best ones to keep Connecticut on a path towards a brighter future. The Governor, through his office and through OPM, remains willing to discuss his budget proposals, or any other specific proposals legislators make, at any time. Executive branch employees are professionals who can’t be expected to publicly advocate for positions at odds with the Governor as a part of their job.”

Barnes statement is a bizarre and weak excuse for a policy approach that promotes secrecy and violates the most basic tenets of an open and transparent government.

The Democratic majority in the Connecticut House of Representatives should put down their budget pens, set aside their budget calculators and tell a governor and an administration that has gone amok that no further action will be taken on Malloy’s proposed budget until this outrageous memo is rescinded and Connecticut’s state commissioners and agency heads are instructed to be open and honest with all of the members of the legislative branch of government whose obligation is to review, revise a governor’s proposed budget and eventually adopt a budget that carries the weight of law.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has lost his way, his mind or both….

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Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election campaign was based on a fundamental lie. 

He knew it, we knew it, and now it is visible for all to see.

Having failed to right the ship of state, Malloy engaged in a desperate attempt to save his political career by telling Connecticut’s voters that there was no state budget deficit this year and that he would eliminate the $1.4 billion dollar projected budget shortfall for this coming year without having to raise taxes, cut services or seek concessions from the state employee unions.

Rather than admit that he had inherited a $3.7 billion budget disaster when he was sworn in as governor, but after four years, had created a $5 billion budget shortfall over the next three fiscal years, Malloy resorted to what has become the standard operating procedure for the incumbency parties —he just pretended that reality didn’t exist.

Despite his “read my lips” campaign pronouncements, Malloy went before a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly six weeks ago and proposed a budget that increased taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, shifted hundreds of millions more in state spending to the state credit card and proposed devastating cuts to a broad array of vital state services.

It was a budget proposal that was nothing short of irresponsible.

And then, like a petulant toddler, he stormed back into his room and slammed the door!

The truth is Malloy’s behavior and approach could have been easily predicted.

During the campaign season Malloy used a variety of tricks to sidestep and circumvent Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.  One vehicle he used was a political action committee aptly named Prosperity for Connecticut, a PAC which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from a variety of corporate interests, the most successful fundraising event being the one hosted by the charter school industry.

Fast-forward to his budget speech of February 2015 where Malloy proposed the deepest cuts in Connecticut history to the state’s public schools while calling for a nearly 30% increase in funding for charter schools.

The net result of Malloy’s “plan” for Connecticut would be cuts in local schools, high property taxes, especially for Connecticut’s dwindling middle class, and more money for his campaign donors and political allies who are profiting off Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiatives.

Sadly, for Connecticut, the anti-public school, pro-charter school approach is just one more example of Malloy’s warped priorities.

Yet here we are; a state behind the curve when it comes to economic recovery and well ahead of the curve when it comes to budget deficits, fiscal gimmicks and dysfunctional leaders.

And where is Malloy?

The headlines this past week make it abundantly clear that his detachment from reality has only grown in recent weeks;

From CT MirrorAs deficit options dwindle, Malloy may be staring at a rainy day, and Lembo: Time to fix worsening state budget deficit is now and Larger deficit looms as Malloy warns of more emergency cuts and Malloy’s message: Forget raising taxes, restoring cuts.

And from CT Newsjunkie:  Malloy Tells Lawmakers There’s ‘No Remaking’ The Budget and $172.8M Budget Deficit Just Shy of Trigger

And then there is this;

Malloy: No Changes Expected In Spending Cap (Hartford Courant)

This from a governor who relied on a mix of gimmicks to get around the spending cap over the last four years.  On the state spending cap, Malloy and GOP have checkered past (CTMirror)

Read all of these articles, read any of these articles and the picture will become clear and stark.

Dan Malloy lied to get elected and his strategy, tactics and behavior will send Connecticut and our state government over the cliff and into the abyss.

The only thing that stands in the way of the coming disaster is the Connecticut General Assembly and that doesn’t provide much hope or optimism.

Look-Out – He’s got our credit card and he is going nuts!

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At last week’s State Bond Commission meeting Governor Dannel Malloy responded to a question by admitting that that his administration was informing Wall Street analysts that Connecticut would be dramatically increasing the use of the state’s credit card this year.

The CT Mirror’s story about the stunning announcement was entitled, “Malloy to Wall Street: Expect state borrowing to jump 40 percent this year.” 

There wasn’t a lot of other media coverage about the statement despite the fact that it is probably the single most important thing that Governor Malloy has said since he falsely claimed, during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, that there was no state budget deficit this year and that he would be able to solve next year’s projected $1.4 billion budget deficit without raising taxes or cutting vital services.

  • Recall that with less than a week to go before Election Day 2014, Malloy said the state was enjoying a budget surplus, although we now know that this year’s budget deficit has added up to over a quarter of a billion dollars and continues to get worse.
  • And as to his “Read My Lips” promise of no new taxes and no cuts to critical programs, the proposed budget that Malloy announced in February included $900 million in additional tax revenue, shifting about $300 million in existing spending onto the state credit card, along with a series of devastating and irresponsible cuts to essential state services.

But forgetting that Malloy didn’t tell the truth about the status of this year’s state budget deficit while misleading voters by promising to do the impossible when it comes to next year’s budget, the latest news that he plans to put another $2.4 billion onto the state credit card this year should be front page, top of the fold, large font headline news in every media outlet in the state.

Although the amount of state debt already makes Connecticut one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to how much debt our taxpayers must pay back over the next two decades, we now have a governor who increased the amount of annual borrowing from about $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion a year in his first term and has now announced that he is planning to borrow forty percent more this year.

As Keith Phaneuf explained in his CT Mirror article last week,

“Malloy notified the State Bond Commission on Tuesday that he increased what is commonly referred to as the “soft bond cap” from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion for the 2015 calendar year.

That’s up almost 40 percent from last year, and almost 80 percent from 2012, when Malloy had set the cap at $1.4 billion.”

In an attempt to explain why the state would borrow such an excessive amount this year, Malloy told reporters,

“[M]oney continues to be relatively cheap and that can’t be guaranteed to last forever…Let’s try to capitalize on getting the cheapest possible money that we can when we have that opportunity.”

To put that statement into perspective, imagine calling a family meeting and telling your spouse and kids,

“Hey everyone, we just got a credit card in the mail with a low interest rate so you should all go out and buy all the things you want because we don’t know how long we’ll have access to low rates like these…and then when your youngest asks, but dad, how will we pay for the high monthly minimum payments that will be due each month for the next twenty to thirty years, you pat him or her on the head and say, I’m impressed you understand that point but don’t worry about it, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

In response to Malloy’s breathtakingly irresponsible announcement, the General Assembly’s Republican leaders on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee pointed out not only does Connecticut rank as one of the most indebted states — per capita — in the nation, but observed that, “During these tough fiscal times we should be reining in borrowing.”

Of course, after their political shot at Malloy and the Democrats, the Republicans on the Bond Commission then voted for all the new bonding that was on the agenda for this month.

It should be noted that Malloy’s obsession with excessive borrowing is hardly new.

As the CT Mirror’s story notes,

“In the last two years leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election — which Malloy won by defeating Greenwich Republican Tom Foley — the governor and the legislature’s Democratic majority also moved hundreds of millions of dollars of operating expenses onto the credit card to avoid pre-election tax hikes.

These steps included:

  • Refinancing debt to push $392 million in payments owed then until after the election.

  • Bonding $173 million in new municipal aid.

  • Bonding $57 million for pollution abatement and stem cell research grants that previously were paid for out of the operating budget.

  • Borrowing an extra $39 million so that debt payments tied to converting state finances to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles could be deferred until after the election.

And finally, as if to prove just how out of touch all of Connecticut’s leaders are on the issue of the growing burden they are placing on Connecticut’s taxpayers by borrowing more and more money, the CT Mirror story concludes with,

“Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia countered Wednesday that Republican lawmakers are not critical of state borrowing whenever the funds support projects in their home districts.

“I’ve never seen such hypocrisy out of the GOP,” Puglia said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Both Frantz and Davis [The Republican’s two top leaders on the General Assembly’s Finance Committee] serve on the bond commission and have voted to approve financing for various projects in their communities, or in those of their colleagues…”

Great, just great….

Rather than address the real problem, the Democrats and Republicans spend their time hurling insults at each other while they all just keep using the state’s credit card knowing that it is Connecticut’s residents who will end up having to pay off the enormous cost of the principal and interest they are racking up.

CT Capitol Report Headline Reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

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While some tend to fall back on the phrase, “I told you so” much too often, the truth is that rarely does one get a chance to point to someone else confirming an individual’s claim that that they really were right when others were wrong….

So with that as the backdrop and propelled by an opportunity to brag, tempered by an appropriate dose of humility, I am proud to report that ctcapitolreport, the state’s leading news aggregation website, is sporting a headline that reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

The reference is to my long-standing and on-going observation that in order to balance next year’s Connecticut state budget, provide sufficient revenue to fund critical services and begin to reduce the unfair tax burden on Connecticut’s middle class, Connecticut’s elected officials must find the courage to actually do what is necessary and that means appending Connecticut’s tax code to require that the state’s wealthy begin to pay their fair share of taxes.

Longer term Wait, What? readers will recall that this blog does cover issues other than the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Scheme.

In fact, another primary focus of this blog has traditionally been Connecticut’s irresponsible fiscal policies that have resulted in a truly regressive tax system in which the state’s lowest income families pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes and the wealthy, who have been coddled by both Democrats and Republicans, only pay about 5 to 6 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

While the inequities in Connecticut’s tax system have been growing for decades, the problem has become particularly severe as a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s unending fiscal gimmicks and his unprecedented dedication and addiction to irresponsible fiscal policies.

The article the website www.ctcapitolreport.com  is referring to is a news story posted early today by Connecticut’s premier budget reporter, Keith Phaneuf of the CTMirror.

Phaneuf has written another MUST READ story for those who want to understand Connecticut’s state budget and how Governor Dannel Malloy lied his way through the 2014 gubernatorial campaign by claiming there was no state deficit and that if he was re-elected we would eliminate the projected $1.4 billion projected deficit for next year without having to raise taxes or cut services.

Keith Phaneuf’s latest article is entitled “Tax hike ideas abound at the Capitol,” and can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/23/tax-hike-ideas-abound-at-the-capitol/

The CT Mirror piece concludes with the following;

Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, who tried unsuccessfully to petition onto the 2014 gubernatorial ballot, predicted last summer that the big budget deficits projected for the next two fiscal years would eventually force a progressive income tax debate this spring.

“Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair in state income tax is the only responsible way to balance the state budget and begin to reduce the heavy and inappropriate burden on Connecticut’s middle-income taxpayers,” Pelto said last week. “Failure to require the rich to pay their fair share will mean unacceptable cuts in vital services and hurting the middle class and all working families by shifting even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers.

Or, in other words, “I told you so.”

Malloy budget targets most vulnerable among us

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As we know, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy promised that he would not propose or accept any tax increase if he was elected to a second term  and then went ahead and proposed over $900 million in revenue “enhancements” in his budget address this week.

Malloy also used his re-election campaign to promise that he would maintain funding for local cities and towns and would not cut vital services.

On budget day, in the same document he proposed flat funding Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing education funding formula; he cut about $70 million from a variety of important public education programs that assist local schools as they seek to serve some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.

And as if all of that wasn’t revolting enough, Malloy reserved his most drastic and draconian cuts for some of the state’s most important social service programs.

In a powerful and MUST READ commentary piece, Sarah Darer Littman lays out the truth about Malloy’s devastating budget plan in her commentary piece at the CTNewsjunkie;

Governor’s Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building “systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities,” particularly in light of research showing that “approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18.”

Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the “Children’s Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor’s proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

That’s before we even get to health care and education.

The Sandy Hook report specifically mentioned the importance making it easier for families to obtain mental health services for young people. Yet the budget reduces funding for the Young Adult Services program by $2.7 million (3.3 percent) and reduces funding for school based health centers by $1 million (8.5 percent).

In the Department of Education, the governor plans to eliminate funding for “lower priority or non-statewide programs” by $ 6.2 million. Here we’re talking about programs such as Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); Connecticut PreEngineering Program; Connecticut Writing Project; neighborhood youth centers; Parent Trust; science program for Educational Reform Districts; wrap-around services; Parent Universities; school health coordinator pilot; technical assistance – Regional Cooperation; Bridges to Success; Alternative High School and Adult Reading; and School to Work Opportunities. Not only that,he’s cutting $6.49 million annually for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School components of the Priority School District Grant (i.e. grant program for districts with greatest academic need).

Wrap-around services, longer school days, and enrichment for students, particularly in the more disadvantaged districts, were something Malloy touted when he was selling his education reform package back in 2012. “It’s not as if we don’t know what works,” Malloy said in an article in the New Britain Herald: “wrap-around services, longer school days and longer school years, Saturday enrichment options.”

On top of what Malloy said, there’s over 100 years worth of research on summer learning loss. It disproportionately affects lower-income students whose parents can’t afford to send them to pricey summer camps or other enrichment activities. What’s more, the effects are cumulative, contributing to the achievement gap.

Take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s entire commentary piece.

You can find it at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_governors_budget_ignores_evidence_hits_vulnerable/

Dan “Read My Lips” Malloy goes with $900 million plus in new revenue…

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During his campaign for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy told Connecticut’s voters that there was no state budget deficit this year … [Despite the fact that a sea of nearly $250 million in red ink appeared after Election Day.]

And Malloy’s most consistent and outlandish claim was that he would not propose or accept any new taxes if the citizens of Connecticut re-elected him to a second term.

But in this morning’s exclusive CT Mirror story on the new state budget plan that Governor Malloy will be proposing later today, we learn that the Governor will call for more than $900 million in new revenue over the biennium, of which about $500 million of that amount will come about by repealing pre-election tax breaks that Malloy proposed and signed into law during the past two years.  Malloy is also apparently reneging on the tax cuts he said he would institute if re-elected.

CT Mirror Reports;

“The biennial budget Gov. Dannel P. Malloy intends to propose today would erase a two-year, $2.5 billion shortfall with $1.6 billion in spending cuts and $900 million in additional revenue, an attempt to say he is equitably spreading pain while keeping a pledge not to raise taxes.”

Malloy, a Democrat re-elected last fall, is proposing a three-pronged approach to his second fiscal crisis in four years: deep spending cuts, combined with additional revenue raised by deferring promised tax cuts and boosting tax receipts without changing rates.

[…]

With a proposal that relies on $900 million in new revenue, Malloy can expect a vigorous debate over what constitutes a tax increase. According to administration officials, the budget creates no new taxes, nor does it raise rates, but it generates additional revenue by restricting tax credits, eliminating exemptions and making other tax rule changes.

Malloy campaigned on a pledge not to raise taxes and to deliver more than half a billion dollars in tax cuts over the next two fiscal years.

The governor’s plan bolsters net revenues by more than $900 million over the next two years combined. It does deliver a promised sales tax exemption for over-the-counter medications, worth about $29 million.

More on Malloy’s State Budget as it becomes available later in the day.

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