Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point (New Haven Advocate)
Over the weekend, State Representative Lawrence Cafero, the Republican Leader of the House wrote a commentary piece in the Hartford Courant in which he claimed “Malloy’s Budget Undercuts His Tough Talk”.
The Republican leader offered Governor Malloy a backhanded compliment on his “no gimmick” budget and his plan to get huge givebacks from state employees and then blasted the Governor as a big spender and proponent of more government.
Cafero’s piece is a sad testament to why Legislative Republicans are such a useless force in Connecticut politics.
As an alternative, Cafero offers up a plan Connecticut’s Senate and House Republicans put forward back on January 2011 called “Common Sense: Commitment to Connecticut”, borrowing heavily from Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America”.
According to the Connecticut Republicans theirs is a “comprehensive set of proposals and ideas to bridge the fiscal abyss the state faces, including billions in savings from all public employees, union and non-union. They also proposed merging 43 agencies into 11 to save millions more, privatizing inefficient state services, rolling back spending to previous levels and selling off assets such as airports and other operations that costs taxpayers more money every year than they bring in.”
Their plan can be found at http://www.cthouserules.com/wp-content/commonsensefinal.pdf.
The Republicans claim that by “rolling back spending to previous levels to save as much as $1.6 billion; a 5 percent reduction in the state’s workforce for $250 million in cuts; and state employee givebacks worth nearly $1.75 billion” will allow Connecticut to eliminate its $3.5 billion budget deficit.
In fact, the Republican say that their “no tax increases needed” budget would actually provide a surplus at the end of next year.
But here is the problem.
The numbers don’t add up. They don’t even come close. Their plan is an utter and complete fraud worthy of a Bernie Madoff scheme. Either they are purposely trying to mislead the public or they are so incredibly ignorant of the facts that they don’t even know the difference between an annual budget and a bi-annual budget.
FACTS about Connecticut’s Annual State Budget:
Debt Service: $1.9 billion (9.7% of the budget)
Grants to towns: $2.8 billion (14.2%)
Personal Services $3.3 billion (17%)
Fringe Benefits $3 billion (15%)
Medicaid/SAGA $4.7 billion (24%)
All Other Expenses $4 billion (20%)
Fact #1: Malloy is seeking $2 billion dollars in employee givebacks to balance his budget over two years. That is a reduction $1 billion for the coming fiscal year. The Republicans want to increase that amount to $1.75 billion – THIS YEAR. Malloy’s number cannot be achieved. His is 5 times greater than what Governor Rell saved in the last round of negotiations and that included a wage freeze, furlough days and NO pension payments.
The Republicans are suggesting savings of almost twice what Malloy can’t get. Not only can’t the Republican’s number be achieved, to suggest it can is an absolute fraud.
Fact #2: Malloy is proposing $400 million in cuts to programs and services.
The Republicans want to quadruple that amount to $1.6 billion. Review the chart above. Debt service cannot be cut. The Republicans, like Malloy, commit to preserving municipal aid. The Republicans, like Malloy, are seeking record concessions from the Personal Services and Fringe Benefits which removes those two items from the list of potential cuts. So that means the Republicans are proposing to cut $1.6 billion from the remainder of the budget – or $1.6 billion from the remaining $8.7 billion that pays for all hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, social services and all other expenses. Cutting that amount would destroy much of Connecticut’s most essential services and we can be sure that not a single Republican legislator would ever support such massive and destructive cuts.
Fact #3: The Republicans call for cutting 5% of the state workforce to save $250 million. As the numbers above reveal, to save $250 million from the Personal Service line would be a cut of more than 10% of state personnel.
So what is the bottom line?
The Republican’s are blasting Malloy for not cutting enough and then put forward a plan that is so absurd that not a single one of them would actually vote for such a document.
But, while their plan is absurd and impossible to achieve it makes good rhetoric and as long as they aren’t called out on it… their Rhetoric becomes more Real than Reality.