NEWS FLASH – Malloy, State Employee Unions DROP KICK $13 billion plus onto the backs of our children

Governor Dannel Malloy, in concert with Connecticut’s State Employee Unions, have joined forces to shift a major portion of Connecticut’s massive unfunded pension liability onto the backs of Connecticut’s children and those yet to come.

Call it an outrageous effort to kick the can so far down the road that no one will be around to remember what today’s elected officials have done to the economic well-being of those who aren’t yet voters and those who haven’t even shown up on this earth.

Worse yet, the action will probably be taken without a vote of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Warning that such a disastrous deal would be forthcoming, Wait, What? published two recent commentary pieces on the topic.

Don’t shift Connecticut’s unfunded liability problem onto our children.   (Via CT Mirror 12-8-16)

And

Warning – Malloy likely to propose shifting State’s massive unfunded liability problem onto our children  (12-1-16)

But the warnings fell on deaf ears as Connecticut’s governor now seeks to duck significant responsibility for paying down Connecticut’s unfunded state employee pension fund.

As CT Mirror explains in a breaking story entitle, Malloy, unions strike deal to stretch out spiking CT pension costs;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a deal Friday with state employee unions that would allow Connecticut to dodge a fiscal iceberg by holding down annual pension costs otherwise set to spike over the next 16 years.

But to get that relief, Connecticut would shift at least $13.8 billion in estimated pension expenses owed before 2032 onto a future generation.

[…]

For now, though, the agreement shifts a heavy burden to a future generation on the argument that this one simply cannot afford to pay the full burden it faces.

The CT Mirror adds;

Under the new agreement, this year’s $1.6 billion annual cost essentially would remain flat next fiscal year. It originally was supposed to increase by about $84 million. But after that it would rise steadily until it reaches $2.2 billion in 2022.

It could remain there — depending on how pension investments fare — until 2032.

It would drop below $1.8 billion in 2033 and, from there, it would remain close to $1.7 billion through at least 2046.

[…]

The Malloy administration did not release an estimate Thursday of that lost investment opportunity. But a spokesman said the cost could be calculated in the coming weeks after an actuarial analysis of the new pension funding plan is completed.

This plan could be approved, under current legislative rules, without a vote from lawmakers, provided neither the House nor Senate vote to reject it within 30 days after the 2017 session begins on Jan. 4.

For more on this developing story go to: http://ctmirror.org/2016/12/09/malloy-unions-strike-deal-to-stretch-out-spiking-ct-pension-costs/

Don’t shift Connecticut’s unfunded liability problem onto our children (via CT Mirror)

A special thanks to the CT Mirror for posting Don’t shift Connecticut’s unfunded liability problem onto our children.  You can read and comment on this important issue at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/12/08/dont-shift-connecticuts-unfunded-liability-problem-onto-our-children/

Don’t shift Connecticut’s unfunded liability problem onto our children

Eroding revenues, red ink and poor fiscal management continue to undermine Connecticut’s state budget.  Unaltered, the present approach will make it increasingly difficult, even impossible, for our children and future generations to have a state government that fulfills its fundamental and constitutional duty to provide for a healthier, safer and more equitable society.

But the problem is about to get far worse.

The fiscal crisis facing Connecticut is severe, but rather than step up and truly address the crisis, Gov. Dannel Malloy and many state legislators continue to turn a blind eye to their responsibility, especially when it comes to addressing the failures of the past.

Since he took office in January 2011, Malloy’s fiscal policies have been based on a reckless strategy of coddling the rich, outrageous acts of corporate welfare, record cuts to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, reducing the availability of vital public services and undermining public education … all while shifting more and more of the burden to pay for public services onto Connecticut’s regressive and anti-middle income property tax system.

Denying the very real fiscal problems that are facing the state, Malloy and his political operatives have bounced back and forth between denying the very existence of state deficits and lamenting the arrival of a new economic reality.

Many will remember that upon his arrival in the governor’s office, Malloy whined about the fact that he had “inherited” a $3.7 billion budget shortfall following the fiscally irresponsible policies of Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democratic-controlled Connecticut General Assembly.

However, rather than use his time in office put the state back on track, Malloy’s irresponsible budget tactics have further exacerbated Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

Proof of this growing disaster can be found in the reality that as the Malloy administration prepares to propose Connecticut’s next state budget, the state is faced with a projected biennial budget shortfall in excess of $3.3 billion and growing.

And by failing to resolve Connecticut’s year-to-year budget problems, the situation facing the state’s pension and retiree healthcare obligations has become particularly severe.

Now, having squandered the opportunity to institute a special income tax surcharge on Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers to pay down some of the massive debt and unfunded liabilities, the options are fewer and the problems are bigger.

If history is any lesson, Malloy’s “solution” to Connecticut’s fiscal crisis will be to propose another state budget plan full of gimmicks, but this time the issue will be compounded by a plan to dump even more of the responsibility for dealing with the state’s catastrophically high debt and unfunded liabilities onto our children and future generations.

It is certainly no secret that behind closed doors Malloy and his team are developing a proposed FY18-FY19 state budget built on more cuts to vital services, shifting even more of the burden for a college education onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their families and significantly reducing the amount of municipal aid, thereby further increasing property tax rates on Connecticut’s middle income families.

What is less understood is that Malloy will likely propose walking away from Connecticut’s near term obligation to confront the state’s $74 billion debt and unfunded liabilities.

The truth is that for decades Connecticut state government has refused to properly fund its state employee and teacher pension and benefit plans.

Making matters even worse, Malloy and the legislature have been using the state’s credit card in inappropriate ways, including his decision to use borrowed funds to pay for his failed, but much heralded, corporate welfare program designed to pick winners and losers and reward companies he favors.

Now, all of these “chickens are coming home to roost.”  Yet rather than step up and take action to reduce state debt and adequately fund Connecticut’s pension and benefits funds, Malloy may propose “kicking the can down the road” by shifting even more of the burden onto Connecticut’s children and future generations, a maneuver that will dramatically increase the cost to taxpayers over time.

The harsh reality is that when faced with the critically important obligation to do what is right, Connecticut’s elected officials – Democrat and Republican – have remained committed to a motto that reads, “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

The result of such a tactic is not only exacerbating Connecticut’s fiscal problems, but condemning our children and future generations.

If Connecticut voters are not outraged, they aren’t paying enough attention.

Once again, weigh in on this important issue at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/12/08/dont-shift-connecticuts-unfunded-liability-problem-onto-our-children/

Warning – Malloy likely to propose shifting State’s massive unfunded liability problem onto our children

Since taking office in January 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy’s fiscal policies have been based on a reckless strategy of coddling the rich, record cuts to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, reducing the availability of vital public services and undermining public education … all while shifting more and more of the burden to pay for public services onto Connecticut’s regressive and anti-Middle Class property tax system.

Some will remember that upon his arrival in the Governor’s Office, Dannel Malloy whined about the fact that he had “inherited” a $3.7 billion budget shortfall following the fiscally irresponsible policies of Governor Jodi Rell and the Democratic-controlled Connecticut General Assembly.

However, rather than use his time in office to put the state back on track, Malloy’s irresponsible budget tactics have further exacerbated Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

Proof of this growing disaster can be found in the reality that as the Malloy administration prepares to propose Connecticut’s next state budget, the governor and his staff are facing a projected biennial budget shortfall in excess of $3.3 billion and growing.

Will this be the year that Governor Dannel Malloy finally takes the steps necessary to confront the budget problems challenging the state?

The answer is almost certainly a resounding NO!.

Sources close to Malloy are reporting that the neo-liberal politician’s “solution” to Connecticut’s fiscal crisis will be to propose a budget full of gimmicks, all the while dumping the responsibility for dealing with the state’s catastrophically high debt and unfunded liabilities onto our children and future generations.

Behind closed doors, Malloy and his team have begun the task of putting together the state’s FY18-FY19 proposed budget.  Knowledgeable sources suggest that this new budget will be built on more cuts to vital services, shifting even more of the burden for a college education onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their families and significantly reducing the amount of municipal aid, thereby further increasing the property tax rates on Connecticut’s middle income families.

Equally appalling is the growing probability that Malloy, with the support of the legislature, will simply walk away from the state’s obligation to confront its $74 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.

For decades Connecticut state government has refused to properly fund its state employee and teacher pension and benefit plans.

Making matters even worse, Malloy and the legislature have been using the state’s credit card in inappropriate ways, including Malloy’s much heralded corporate welfare program designed to reward companies he favors.

Now all of those “chickens are coming home to roost,” but rather then step up and take action to reduce state debt and adequately fund pension and benefits, it now appears that Malloy will simply propose dumping the burden onto Connecticut’s children and future generations.

While facing the fundamental obligation to do what is right, their operating motto seems to remain – Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow – no matter how devastating that delay will be for our children and those yet to come.

If Connecticut voters are not outraged, they aren’t paying enough attention.

Bankrupting Connecticut – Nothing to see here – Just keep moving

The Wait, What? Blog was created in January 2011.  Since then, 2,340 articles have been posted to the site.  In turn, the commentary pieces have generated well in excess of $2 million hits.

One of the most constant refrains has been the problems and dangers associated with the excess debt that is dragging Connecticut down and the irresponsible failure of the state’s elected officials – both Democrat and Republican – to deal with that mounting crisis

Initial posts to Wait What? included More on the issues underling Connecticut’s State Employee Pension System (1/25/11) and Connecticut’s state pension fund in its worst shape since the state began saving for pension obligations in the mid-1980s. (2/1/11).

Over the years came additional posts such as;

Look-Out – He’s got our credit card and he is going nuts!  (3/24/15)

WARNING!  WARNING! The state of Connecticut’s Fiscal Health  (11/18/14)

Malloy’s “NO TAX” pledge will send Connecticut into the abyss  (5/6/14)

The State Budget Gimmick to End all Budget Gimmicks (12/1/14)

Is that your credit card? Why yes, yes it is…. (9/26/13)

Connecticut: The Republic of Debt    (6/19/13)

And many, many more….

The effort to alert, warn and educate citizens about the fact that elected officials are failing to address Connecticut’s extraordinary debt crisis highlights the words of Jonathan Kozel, the great public education advocate and award winning author, who once wrote;

“Now, I don’t expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.” – Jonathan Kozol

And as if to prove the point, the debt crisis has gotten even worse thanks to the actions and inactions of Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the Democratic controlled Generally Assembly.

As if to drive the point home, today’s CT Newsjunkie headline reads, Pew: Connecticut Has One of Highest Public Debt to Personal Income RatiosThe story reports;

Connecticut has one of the highest ratios of debt to personal income and the fifth highest ratio of state retiree health care liabilities to income, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released Tuesday.

The report, which measured each state’s pension, health care and debt costs as a percentage of personal income, put Connecticut’s total liabilities at $67.5 billion dollars or 30 percent of personal income.

The ratio of public debt to private income is 8.8 percent, which ties Connecticut with Massachusetts for the second highest rate of public debt. When pension, healthcare and public debt are totaled, Connecticut has the fifth highest rate of unfunded liabilities.

Connecticut’s pension woes are well documented. The state’s pension obligations are about 40 percent funded, according to the 2015 actuarial valuation of the fund. Only 7 other states have a higher rate of unfunded liabilities.

Courtesy of CT Newsjunkie
Courtesy of CT Newsjunkie

 

While the information is hardly new, it remains extremely newsworthy.

It is newsworthy, in part, because Connecticut’s politicians are making things worse, not better and because many of them won’t even tell the truth about the crisis.

Take for example, the notorious failure to properly fund Connecticut’s pension obligations.

The new technique for ducking responsibility is to talk about “structural change,” as if we could just pass a law to reduce the problem with unfunded pension obligations.

The fact is that a state employee hired today is placed in what is called Tier III of the Connecticut State Pension System.

Tier IIA was already the least generous pension in New England, Tier III provides is even stingier.

The real reason Connecticut owes so much money to its Pension Fund is that, for the past four decades, the state has FAILED to make the necessary payments into the fund and has even raided the fund to pay for annual budget expenses.

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf has written over and over again, and the CT Newsjunkie explains today;

The state will have to pay more than $1.5 billion into the pension fund this year to meet the annually required contribution, of which $1.2 billion represents unfunded liability or an amortization payment toward past unfunded liability. An estimated 82 percent of that payment represents the payment for unfunded liabilities. The normal annual cost of pension benefits is less than $300 million.

Had Connecticut been making its payments all along, there wouldn’t be a pension fund problem.

If Connecticut had been funding the Pension Fund correctly, the state would now have about $1 billion available to preserve vital services and begin the process of providing adequate funding to Connecticut’s public schools, and thereby reducing the unfair property tax burden the is helping to crush the Middle Class.

Instead, scarce taxpayer money is going to address the excess debt — and still the debt grows.

Over the four decades, Connecticut has had 3 Democratic governors, 2 Republican governors and an Independent/Republican governor.  Not one of them was willing to do the right thing.

A recent public opinion poll listed Dannel Malloy as the 2nd least popular governor in United States.

Malloy’s response was that his “numbers were low” because he was making the tough choices and doing the right thing.

But of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Malloy’s legacy is not about doing the right thing.

Among Malloy’s list of failures is his refusal to properly address Connecticut’s long term debt.

You can read the important CT Newsjunkie story at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/pew_connecticut_has_one_of_highest_public_debt_to_personal_income_ratios/

Malloy presents a state budget plan that would make hip hop artist B.o.B. proud

Flanked by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, his “policy-partner,” Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy lectured a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly today about the importance of being fiscally responsible.

It was a grand theatrical performance that would make hip hop artist B.o.B. proud.

Less than two weeks ago, singer and music producer B.o.B informed the world that despite what we have been told, the World is Flat!

Like Governor Dannel Malloy, the “all-knowing” musician laid down the “truth” about the flatness of the Earth explaining;

“No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level … sorry cadets… I didn’t wanna believe it either.”

“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up.”

“I question the international laws that prevent you from exploring Antarctica and the North Pole… what’s there to hide? …I’m going up against the greatest liars in history … you’ve been tremendously deceived.”

Thankfully, in an epic response, world renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, went on the Nightly Show to set things straight.  The best portion of which can be seen in this video clipThe Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss also has a great write-up in article entitled, Why in the world would rapper B.o.B think the Earth is flat? A quick science lesson.

Earlier today, doing his best to channel B.o.B. into the historic chamber of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Governor Malloy took off on a fantastic ride of revisionist history in which he blamed everyone but himself for the fiscal disaster that is dragging Connecticut into the muck.

A far deeper analysis of Malloy’s budget proposal will come in the days and weeks ahead, but readers can learn more about some of the specific aspects of Malloy’s proposal via the following links.  Malloy targets municipal aid, agency budgets, perhaps ‘thousands’ of jobs (CT Mirror), Malloy Budget Plan Hammers State Workers, (CT Newsjunkie), Gov. Malloy Will Cut State Workforce By Thousands (Hartford Courant) and from many other Connecticut news outlets.

That said, the details of this farce of a budget where overshadowed by Malloy’s even more bizarre effort to portray himself as some sort of fiscal guardian and truth teller.

As the Hartford Courant wrote;

“In a sternly-worded speech, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told state legislators Wednesday that they must accept “a new economic reality” of smaller government, scaled-back programs and greater compromise.”

This from the politician who relied on budget gimmicks to produce a series of state budgets that did not balance and then based his re-election campaign on the message that there was no deficit and that he would neither propose nor sign any tax increases if given a second term in office.

Of course, literally days after the election, Malloy’s budget chief admitted that there was a state deficit and Malloy went on to sign a budget that included the second massive tax hike of his tenure as governor.

And as every observer of Connecticut government and politics recognizes, the words “Malloy” and “compromise” cannot be used in the same sentence.

Malloy’s rhetoric about honest budgeting was only eclipsed in today’s speech by his comments regarding his record when it comes to Connecticut’s long term debt obligations.

Unconstrained by the truth or his own record in dealing with Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its pension and post-employment benefit programs, Malloy pontificated;

“Now, it has fallen upon us to fix it. After decades of neglect, we are finally paying our pension obligations every year. I think we all know that must continue.”

This from a guy who just a few months ago proposed kicking the can so far down the road that we’d shift more than $8 billion in pension liabilities onto the backs of Connecticut’s children and grandchildren.

And lest we forget, it is Malloy who has gone crazy with the state’s credit card, borrowing money to pay for various pet projects including his massive corporate welfare program.

As for his immediate commitment to making even deeper cuts to state programs, Malloy’s approach is probably best reflected by his proposal to cut funding for dental care for poor children and his plan to save $1 million by “reducing the burial benefit for indigent people from$1,400 to $1.000.”  That last one was actually something Malloy proposed last year, but legislators reviewed the issue and trashed the plan.

In the end, Malloy’s new budget plan relies heavily on reducing services for those with developmental disabilities, those who suffer with mental illness and addiction, and other vulnerable residents who rely on help from Connecticut’s nonprofit providers for community services.

Of course, Malloy has now returned to his claim that he will not support any new taxes, overlooking his own effort to dramatically cut municipal aid, which will force cities and towns across Connecticut to raise local property taxes.

Then, as if to remind us, once again, of Malloy’s true priorities, the governor, who refuses to require that Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens pay their fair share in taxes, adds a new provision in his budget plan that would provide a tax break for millionaires when it comes to paying their probate fees.

As Connecticut citizens work to understand Malloy’s latest budget proposal, they would do well to remember that just because a politician or a musician says it’s so —- doesn’t actually mean that it is so…

Readers who want to understand Malloy’s perspective can start by taking a step back from today’s budget madness and read the recent Wait, What? post entitled; Malloy Budget Plan – Coddle the rich while cutting vital state services.

2016 New Year’s prediction – Governor Dannel Malloy will resign in the next 385 days.

As the newly crowned head of the Democratic Governors Association, Dannel Malloy will spend 2016 crisscrossing the United States to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidates and his preferred presidential contender, Hillary Clinton.  Malloy’s recent campaign trips have already taken him to New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa.

Should Hillary Clinton become President of the United States, Malloy will be able to find a safe landing place in Washington D.C. following the January 20, 2017 Inauguration.

However, should the call to “serve” at the national level elude him, observers can still expect Governor Dannel Malloy to bail as Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official at some point in the next 385 days.

Leading the list of reasons Malloy will seek greener pastures is the harsh reality that the person sitting in the Governor’s chair in 2017 will be facing a massive two-year state budget hole of at least $3.6 billion dollar for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Malloy is fond of claiming that he inherited a state budget deficit in excess of $3 billion from Governor Jodi Rell.  Six years later, Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis projects that Connecticut will face a budget shortfall of $1.7 billion in FY18, $1.9 billion in FY19 and a stunning $2.2 billion budget crisis in FY20,

The fact is that the man who said he’d put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order has cobbled together a series of gimmick ridden state budgets that will require Connecticut’s elected officials to confront at budget problem that will be nearly $8 billion over the three years following this year’s election cycle.

Telling the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal problems have never been one of Malloy’s strong points.

Running for Governor in 2010, Dan Malloy famously laid out his fiscal strategy in an October 26, 2010 WVIT TV Channel 30 debate when he said,

“I want to be very clear: We’re not raising taxes. That’s the last thing we will do.”

Of course, upon taking office in 2011, Malloy led the effort to adopt a new state budget that increased taxes by upwards toward $2 billion, instituted major spending cuts to a variety of critically important state programs and services and produced some labor concessions after he sought to blame state employees for Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

The only group spared from Malloy’s vision of shared sacrifice was Connecticut’s wealthiest.

Malloy’s tax plan pumped up the income tax rate on the state’s middle-income families while coddling the rich.  As Malloy explained before a joint session of the legislature, he didn’t want to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share because he didn’t want to “punish” success.

When Dannel Malloy returned to the campaign trail four year later to seek a second term in office his strategy was based on doubling down on the effort to mislead Connecticut’s voters about the state’s fiscal situation.

As the 2014 gubernatorial campaign unfolded, Malloy stuck religiously to his political talking-points claiming;

  • “We won’t have deficits. We don’t have deficits.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – Feb 4, 2014
  • “We really don’t have a deficit.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – August 4, 2014
  • “There won’t be a deficit. And there won’t be tax increases, because I’m taking that pledge when I couldn’t take it before, because this is a budget I own.” Malloy – NBC Connecticut – Sep. 30, 2014
  • “I don’t believe there will be a budget deficit and I pledge that there won’t be one. I also pledge that there will not be a tax increase.”  Malloy. – FOX CT – Sep. 30, 2014

Malloy’s “Read My Lips” moment came crashing down only days after he won re-election in November 2014 when his administration was forced to admit that Connecticut’s was facing a growing budget deficit, although at the time he tried to maintain his “no tax” rhetoric telling the CT Mirror,

 “State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – November 24, 2014

However, even that claim was as empty as his early campaign promises.

The 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to end with Governor Dannel “No-Tax-Increase” Malloy signing into law a new state budget that contained;

“$1.8 billion in additional tax revenue, over the biennium, including the elimination or postponement of $480 million in tax cuts that, during the campaign, Malloy had promised voters would take effect following his re-election. (CT Mirror)

Malloy’s new budget also made significant cuts to a range of vital services and programs.  Hardest hit were Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.

And was this new state budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?

Not a chance.

As Connecticut citizens soon discovered, within weeks of signing that “balanced” budget, the Malloy administration was forced to admit that a large budget deficit was opening up for this year and next.

In response, Malloy announced budget cuts, called the Connecticut General Assembly into Special Session to adopt more budget cuts and earlier this week, when media coverage was at its lowest point for the year, the Malloy administration announced yet another round of budget cuts.

The latest being some of the most draconian budget cuts to date.

As one advocate for those with disabilities noted earlier this year, “More than 2,100 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been seeking residential services – such as a spot in a group home – but have not received them because of a lack of funding.”

In response to that shocking assessment, Malloy’s budget chief announced this past Wednesday that Governor Malloy had ordered even deeper cuts to Community Residential Services, Employment Opportunities and Day Services for those facing developmental challenges.

At the same time, other vulnerable populations were hit with devastating cuts including early childhood programs, child care services, school readiness, Temporary Assistance to Families – TANF, Grants for Mental Health Services, Young Adult Services mental health services and programs for the homeless.

The candidate who once claimed to be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative has proven that he is neither.

If Connecticut’s annual budget problems don’t speak loudly enough, as a result of Malloy’s spending spree with Connecticut’s state credit card, including more than $1 billion dollars for his corporate welfare giveaway programs, Connecticut’s debt service payments will increase by $61.1 million in FY17, $62.3 million in FY18, $64.8 million in FY19 and $67.6 million in FY20.

Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing will mean that vital services will go unfunded while scarce public funds are syphoned off to pay for the state’s credit card frenzy.

And perhaps worst of all, the most serious fiscal problems facing Connecticut remain unaddressed.

Connecticut’s long term fiscal problems go well beyond the record breaking $22.8 billion in outstanding state debt.

The unfunded State Employee Retirement System (SERS) is short $14.9 billion; the Teachers’ Retirement System is short $10.8 billion, Connecticut’s State Employee Post Employment Health and Life costs will require an additional $19.5 billion and the Teachers’ Post Employment Health costs will need an extra $2.4 billion and that doesn’t even count the remaining obligation associated with actually shift Connecticut to a budget system that meets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Something Malloy promised he would do in his first year in office.)

Adding salt to the wound, Malloy most substantive proposal to address Connecticut’s unfunded State Pension debacle fell apart before it even got out of the starting gate.  As the CT Mirror reported, S&P warns Malloy’s pension plan could cause bond rating cut

“…Wall Street rating agency warned it might lower Connecticut’s bond rating – pushing up interest costs on capital projects – if the state adopts Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan to restructure contributions to the employee pension fund.

Standard & Poor’s also wrote in its recent bond outlook pension system is a key “indicator of budget stress” that — along with a largely unfunded retiree health care system — raises the prospect of more state tax hikes in years to come.

“In our opinion, the pension proposal would represent a significant deferral of unfunded pension liabilities after fiscal 2018,” the S&P report states. “And if implemented in a way that led us to conclude that actuarial unfunded pension liabilities were likely to grow substantially over time, could prompt us to lower the state (general obligation bond) rating one notch.”

Of course, then there is also Malloy’s big plans for a massive road and bridge rebuilding program that he proposed this year, while, at the same time, refusing to identify how we should actually pay for the transportation infrastructure renewal plan.

Again, the CT Mirror points out the problem recently reporting that,

“Connecticut’s transportation program could be in deficit by mid-2018, according to nonpartisan analysts.”

The writing is on the wall for all to see.

Having failed to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, failing to adequately fund Connecticut’s public schools, pushing through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education and failing to provide for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens has caught up with Dannel Malloy

The full impact of Dannel Malloy’s failed policies will come into full force when the Connecticut General Assembly reconvenes in January 2017, just two months after this November’s Presidential, Congressional and Legislative elections.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Malloy hands the baton of leadership over to his dutiful and loyal partner, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, before the next state budget plan must be presented for legislative action.

Want to know the truth about CT’s Fiscal situation – Read OFA’S 2015 Fiscal Accountability Report

Getting honest, accurate information about Connecticut’s fiscal crisis is not easy.  One of the most important sources of information is the annual Fiscal Accountability Report issued by the Connecticut General Assembly’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Fiscal Accountability Report

OFA has become a bastion of “truth-telling” – even when others, including some legislators, would prefer they weren’t.

The one overarching message is that “kicking the can” down the road is simply no-longer an option.

You can find the report at:   https://www.cga.ct.gov/ofa/Documents/year/FF/2016FF-20151113_Fiscal%20Accountability%20Report%20FY%2016%20-%20FY%2020.pdf

Many other useful reports and documents can be found at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/ofa/

Malloy kicks the can so far down the road that it land’s right on our children’s heads

The voters of Connecticut need to pay special attention to Governor Dannel Malloy’s irresponsible proposal to change the way that Connecticut funds its pension program for state employees.

Governor Malloy’s plan is nothing more than an outrageous maneuver to balance his failed state budgets on the backs of our children and their future.  As the title of yesterday’s Wait, What? blog stated – Connecticut: BEWARE of Governor Malloy’s most fiscally irresponsible budget proposal yet.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf provides more information about Malloy’s proposals in his latest article, explaining that the new initiative violates one of the most fundamental promises Dannel Malloy made when he was running for governor in 2010.

Keith Phaneuf writes,

“One year after taking office, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vowed to accelerate payments into the state’s cash-starved pension fund, much as a family might make extra mortgage payments now to lessen balloon payments looming in future years.”

But not surprisingly, although Malloy pushed through significant tax increases in 2011 and 2015, he used the additional funds to pay for other things and never followed through on his commitment to make those extra pension payments.

Now, in the face of new state budget problems, Malloy is completely reversing his stand on properly funding Connecticut’s State pension fund and proposing “kicking the can” down the road by pushing off $8 billion in necessary pension payments onto the next generation of Connecticut taxpayers.

Phaneuf notes,

“Under the governor’s plan, Connecticut still would catch up on its pension contributions — after 2032.”

But as the CT Mirror reports, the Governor who seems unable to tell the truth denied reality, once again, claiming,

“We are not kicking anything down the road,” Malloy said, citing a phrase he and other gubernatorial candidates used in 2010 to describe the fiscal gimmicks that had weakened the pension system and created a record-setting state budget deficit at that time.

“It is simply irresponsible to leave more and more debt for future generations.”  Malloy wrote in his 2010 campaign platform on “Taxes & The Budget.”

The governor insisted this week that it would be irresponsible to pretend state finances, and taxpayers, could afford a $6 billion-plus pension expense down the road.

Postponing some pension payments until later to avoid that fiscal iceberg is the best option, Malloy said, adding that his new plan would “smooth out” the late-term costs.”

However, the truth is that the real spike in the amount of money needed to meet the required pension payments – the real “iceberg” Malloy is referencing – does not occur this year, or next year or even the year after that.

The harsh reality is that Governor Malloy isn’t offering up this new pension funding plan because he is worried about whether the state can make its required pension payments in 2025, he is doing it NOW because he wants to use the money that we should be paying into the pension fund over the next few years to balance the state budgets during his remaining time in office.

This is not an issue of Democrats versus Republicans or Liberals versus Conservatives.  Nor is it a debate about whether there should be addition changes to Connecticut’s state employee pension program.

This debate is about whether Connecticut will fulfill its financial obligations to the state pension fund or allow Dannel Malloy to divert that money to balance his state budgets and reduce the need for additional tax increases or budget cuts.

There will always be politicians like Dan Malloy who would rather dump problems on someone else rather than actually tackling the job of developing fair and honest balanced budgets.

That said, what is not be acceptable is allowing Malloy to resolve the mess he created by dumping the problem on our children.

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

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.

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

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.