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

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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.

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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.

Dannel “The Master Fund Raider” Malloy demands constitutional transportation lockbox or else!

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Once again we return to the idiom of “Calling the Kettle Black.”

In addition to making an appearance at least once here at Wait, What?, it was used by William Shakespeare, William Penn and can even be found in the epic text of Don Quixote. 

The notion of “Calling the Kettle Black” is a relatively simple one and was in full display yesterday (December 15, 2015) when Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy told the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce that he would get his proposed constitutional amendment for a “Transportation Lockbox” or else.

Malloy, who undoubtedly holds the gubernatorial record for raiding and diverting more dedicated public funds to balance the state budget or paying for things that the funds were never intended to cover told the business leaders that he would demand another vote on his Transportation Lockbox proposal because people had a right to know that their tax revenues were being spent for their intended purpose.

As the CT Newsjunkie reported in Malloy Puts Lawmakers On Notice – Support His Transportation Lockbox Or Face Consequences,

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told business leaders Tuesday that he wants a constitutional amendment for his transportation lockbox. Afterward, he told the news media that he will actively campaign against anyone who votes against it.

Malloy didn’t get the three-quarters vote he needed last week during a special session to get the constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot.

“If it goes down again you can be assured I’ll campaign against anybody who didn’t vote for it,” Malloy told reporters after his speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Malloy used his annual speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce to announce that he planned to reintroduce the lockbox legislation in February when the General Assembly reconvenes for its regular session. The language would have to be different than what was proposed during the special session, but Malloy doesn’t know yet exactly how it will be different.

The resolution passed both chambers, but the House vote fell 14 short of the three-quarters it needed.

“Every resident in Connecticut should know that every dollar they put into transportation should be spent on transportation,” Malloy said.

Malloy said the account shouldn’t be raided and that’s what the resolution should make clear. Republican lawmakers were concerned the funds earmarked for the fund would be diverted before they reached the fund.

“Quite frankly, I don’t understand what their position is,” Malloy said of Republican lawmakers.

Republicans were trying to secure the dedicated funding streams for transportation before they reach the lockbox, while Democratic lawmakers were in favor of something less strict.

Malloy’s attack on those who have raised concerns about his transportation lockbox proposal and claim that he “doesn’t understand” why legislators would be wary of his plan is particularly absurd considering Malloy has engaged in a consistent effort to raid and divert taxpayer funds that were promised, even legally mandated by law, to be spent on one purpose but ended up being spent on something else.

Just last week, as part of the “Democratic Budget Deal, Malloy and Democratic legislator halted a  scheduled transfer of $2.1 million from the General Fund to the Special Transportation Fund, instead, keeping the money in the General Fund in an effort to reduce this year’s budget deficit.

In fact, since becoming governor, Malloy has regularly diverted tens of millions of public dollars every year, money that dedicated for one purpose, but under his leadership were spent on something else.

The list of Malloy’s fund raids and budget diversions is a ponderous one. 

The following are just a few of the examples in which Governor Malloy and the legislature shifted money around before or after it was “dedicated” to a particular program.

$40,000 transferred from the Emergency Spill Response to be used for marketing costs for free park admission weekend (FY14)

$600,000 transferred from the Tax Relief for the Elderly Renters to be used for universal pre-kindergarten planning grants at the district and regional levels. (FY14)

$275,000 transferred from the Tax Relief for the Elderly Renters to be used for start-up costs for additional pre-kindergarten seats (FY14)

$19 million transferred from the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to the Board of Regents, $1.6 million from the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to replace a General Fund reduction in the Governor’s Higher Education Scholarship program and $4.4 million of the CT Student Loan Foundation financial assets to the CHET Baby Scholars Trust (FY14)

$100,000 transferred from the Judicial Department Children of Incarcerated Parents account to the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University to fund the New Haven Family Alliance outreach worker program. (FY14)

$686,538 transferred from the of the Minority Advancement program, within the Office of Higher Education to the Connecticut General Fund to reduce the state deficit. (FY14)

$13.95 million that was taken from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to cover Connecticut’s Generally Accepted Account Principles (GAAP) accruals that was then transferred to the General Fund to reduce the state deficit (FY14) [In May of 2013, Connecticut joined 21 other states in a partial settlement with the major tobacco companies of a dispute dating from 2006 regarding payments to the states under the 1998 MSA, from which Connecticut received $63 million. Of the $63 million total, up to $40 million was reserved to help fulfill the state’s obligation to meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)]”

$1 million transferred from the Biomedical Research Trust Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY14 + FY15)

$500,000 transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY 15)

$2.5 million from transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection Account to the general fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$10 million annually transferred from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the smart start competitive grant account for the establishment or expansion of public preschool programs. (FY16-FY25)

$50,000 of the amount appropriated to the Board of Regents for Higher Education be used for the maintenance of the Iwo Jima Memorial and Park located in Newington. The cost had traditionally been paid for with private funds. (FY16)

$1 million transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16 + FY17)

$2 million transferred from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the State Department of Education’s “Smart Start Grant Program” to provide grants to local and regional boards of education to reimburse costs incurred in the implementation, on or before July 1, 2017, of a kindergarten entrance inventory developed by the Office of Early Childhood for each child enrolled in kindergarten. (FY16 + FY17)

$2.25 million from the Citizens Election Fund (CEF) to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$750,000 from the Judicial Data Processing Revolving Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$3 million transferred from the School Bus Seat Belt to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY15)

$2 million transferred from the Biomedical Research Fund to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$2 million transferred from the School Bus Seat Belt to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1 million transferred from the Lottery Assessment Program to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit. (FY16)

$400,000 transferred from the Drug Asset Forfeiture Program to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit. (fy16)

$2 million transferred from the Private Occupational School Student Protection account to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$8.5 million in student tuition and fees from the University of Connecticut Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1.8 million in student tuition and fees from the Connecticut State University Board of Regents Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$1.8 million in student tuition and fees from the Connecticut Community and Technical College Board of Regents Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the budget deficit (FY16)

$3 million in patient fees and other revenue from the UConn Health Center Operating Fund transferred to the General Fund to reduce the Budget Deficit (FY16)

$2 million From the Biomedical Research fund to the General Fund to reduce the Budget Deficit (FY16)

And the list goes on and on and on…

It is truly laughable that Malloy would claim that he is so committed to a “Transportation Lockbox” that he will campaign against any legislator who opposes him,  unless of course, he adds that the lockbox is needed to keep him from doing exactly what he has been doing since the day he was sworn in as Connecticut’s governor.

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

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

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

Here are the facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As WNPR’s story explained;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah and I have a nice bridge for sale….

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

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

Wait, What?

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

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

Now, as Keith Phaneuf reports,

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

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

  • $2 million from a biomedical research fund.

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

  • And nearly $3.7 million from four miscellaneous accounts.

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

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

The CT Mirror article goes on to explain;

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$17 million SBAC testing money should be used to prevent the terrible cuts to programs that actually help children.  (Guest Post by CT Educator James Mulholland)

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A moratorium on the state’s standardized testing frenzy would provide the funding needed to maintain critically important education and human service programs for Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.

As Connecticut policymakers confront a large and growing state budget deficit, veteran Hartford educator James Mulholland correctly recommends that the $17 million in taxpayer funds that are being wasted on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme should be used, instead, to stop the disastrous cuts that will actually hurt and limit opportunities for Connecticut’s poorest children.

James Mulholland writes;

As Connecticut’s lawmakers wrangle with the budget in the coming days, one area of the budget they have not yet considered for cuts is the state’s SBAC testing program.  The state estimates it will spend $17 million developing and administering standardized tests during the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. Advocates of standardized testing in general, and the SBAC in particular, have provided two primary justifications for the testing.  The first is to identify underserved subgroups and thereby better address their educational needs.  Advocates contend that the disparity in test scores, often referred to as the “achievement gap,” provides political leverage and forces politicians and other stakeholders to respond to the needs of historically underserved subgroups such as African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students.

Although the final numbers are still being debated, the state’s recent proposed budget cuts as reported by the CT Mirror include almost $24 million from the Office of Early Childhood and the departments of Social Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Public Health, and Children and Families.  In addition $16.3 million would be cut from the Department of Education, including a $6 million cut in funding for magnet schools. (http://ctmirror.org/2015/11/16/in-departure-democratic-lawmakers-recommend-cuts-in-social-services-education/)

At the start of November, officials at the State Department of Education proposed eliminating a program that provides about 300 New Haven elementary students from low-income families with after-school homework help and access to extracurricular activities, such as African drumming, cooking and archaeology. Funding for separate after-school and summer camps that focus on engineering would also be eliminated. That cut would affect programs in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Hartford, Meriden, Milford, Newington, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford and Waterbury.  Other programs for which funding would be eliminated include: a family literacy program at John C. Clark Elementary and Middle School in Hartford; the extended day program at Lincoln-Bassett School in New Haven; and funding for reading instructional supports in some of the state’s lowest-performing schools would be cut by $250,000. (http://ctmirror.org/2015/11/04/education-department-reluctantly-identifies-4-5-million-in-cuts/)

What is the purpose of identifying underserved subgroups if the state is then going to turn around and cut funding for programs that address the educational needs of those students?  Would we accept healthcare legislation that maintained spending for medical tests, but cut funding for the treatment of health issues diagnosed by those tests?

The SBAC test hasn’t revealed anything new about the state’s achievement gap.  According to state data on the fourth grade math portion of the CMT in 2006, the gap in proficiency between African American students and their White counterparts was 32%, and the gap between Hispanic and White students was 28%.  In reading, the gap in proficiency was 34% between African American and White students and 38% between White and Hispanic students. http://solutions1.emetric.net/cmtpublic/CMTCode/Report.aspx?data=1419936B4BADB47C8675E81D2E415ADA

Although the scores are lower on the SBAC test and the method of reporting the scores makes it difficult to make accurate comparisons, if we look at the state as a whole, the gap between these three groups hasn’t substantially changed in the past nine years.  If we look at the state averages in math, the gap between African American students and White students is 36% and for Hispanic and White students it is 33%.  In reading, the gap between White and African American students is 37% and between White and Hispanic students is 34%. Why should we continue to fund a testing regimen that year after year gives us the same results? http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/excel/smarterbalanced/settingthebaseline2015.xls>

The second frequently cited justification for the multi-state assessment is to give parents a better understanding of how our children perform academically as compared with their peers in other states. The two testing consortiums, PARCC and SBAC, to which Connecticut belongs, have seen a substantial reduction in the number of participating states.  Roughly half the states that belonged to either SBAC or PARCC have since abandoned the consortiums. As a result, the ability for parents to compare their children’s academic performance by comparing test scores from state to state has been significantly compromised.  Just last week, Massachusetts, which is considered to be the nation’s highest performing state, made the decision to abandon the multi-state PARCC test.

The state also plans to use SBAC scores in teacher evaluations.  Connecticut received a waiver from the Federal Department of Education requirement that standardized testing data be used in evaluations during the 2015-16 school year.  Despite the waiver, Connecticut hasn’t reversed its plan to use state testing data in teacher evaluations, a plan that was part of the sweeping education legislation enacted in 2012.  Standardized testing has come under increasing scrutiny across the nation, particularly in its use for high-stakes decisions such as student promotion, in teacher evaluations, and for other school personnel decisions.  Both the American Statistical Association, which is the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals, and the American Educational Research Association have questioned the validity of using standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness and cautioned against using them for such purposes. Last week, a judge in New Mexico temporarily barred schools from using that state’s controversial test-based teacher evaluations to make personnel decisions, finding that the system is not as objective and uniform as state law requires. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2015/12/03/new-mexico-judge-hits-pause-on-controversial-test-based-teacher-evaluations/

In the current fiscal crisis, the state of Connecticut has to make some difficult budget-cutting decisions.  Given the state’s budget problems and the evolution of the SBAC test, Connecticut should institute a moratorium on standardized testing.  It has served few, if any, of the purposes its proponents claim. Instead, the state should redirect the money to fund educational programs that have a real and positive effect on the educational outcomes of Connecticut’s children.

Connecticut educator James Mulholland teaches in Hartford.

Editor’s Note:  If legislators were committed to serving the people they are sworn to represent they would do exactly what James Mulholland is suggesting when they meet to vote on a deficit mitigation package at tomorrow’s Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Connecticut Elected Officials – Do the right thing!

Shhhh … Connecticut. It’s a secret budget deal … Don’t talk about it.

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Last summer the Connecticut General Assembly adopted, and Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law, a new state budget that policymakers knew, or should have known, wasn’t remotely balanced.

A few weeks later the Malloy administration begrudgingly admitted that a significant budget deficit had opened up and was expanding quickly.

Initially Malloy announced he series of controversial and major budget cuts to a variety of vital services, including programs that support the most vulnerable in our society.

Republican and Democrats legislators voiced their concerns about the cuts and the governor’s plans, but Malloy pledged to stay the course.

Then, as the magnitude of the fiscal crisis become more apparent, Malloy “invited” Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to sit down and “negotiate” a deal to balance the budget.

After weeks of behind closed door discussions, the bi-partisan negotiations amicably ended on Thursday with no “acceptable budget deal” in place and Malloy followed up by calling the General Assembly to Hartford next Tuesday to vote on a “Democratic budget deal” … a deal that doesn’t yet exist.

On Friday, the members of the House Democratic Caucus met, behind closed doors, but as legislators later told the CT Newsjunkie, “its hard to discuss a deal that doesn’t exist.”

“House Democrats met behind closed doors Friday afternoon to discuss the deficit mitigation efforts, but sources have said it’s hard to discuss a deal that doesn’t exist.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said they’re close to an agreement with Malloy, but they’re not there yet.” – Malloy Calls Lawmakers Into Special Session; Sharkey Says They Are Close To A Deal (CT Newsjunkie)

Or as the CT Mirror put it,

“Full details of the Democrat-sponsored budget bill were not available Friday…” – Democrats’ deficit plan going to the legislature Tuesday (CT Mirror)

The Hartford Courant added that legislators may actually be instructed to vote on some major structural changes to way Connecticut State Government functions, but;

“Sharkey declined to provide any details on long-term structural changes to the budget, saying that during the confidential budget talks, lawmakers agreed to avoid a public discussion on the topic.”The Hartford Courant

What is known is that Connecticut’s 36 Senators and 151 State Representatives will meet and vote on Tuesday on legislation that will undoubtedly include major cuts to some important programs, will probably include some budget gimmicks, will include some tax breaks for selected businesses and may even make some key structural changes to way Connecticut state government deals with the financial challenges it faces.

Forget the notion that there should be an opportunity for public input.  In this case, voters  won’t even have a real opportunity to know what is in the “budget deal,” a deal that could include changes in excess of half a billion dollars over the next two years.

Heck, at the rate they are going, Connecticut’s State legislators won’t even have a chance to know what they are voting on.

But there is one thing that we can be pretty sure of,

The budget plan that will be rushed through on Tuesday will cut programs that benefit middle and working class families, while continuing to coddle the state’s richest residents.

As has been repeated over and over again on this blog and elsewhere,

After federal income tax deductions, our wealthiest families pay an average of 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5% for middle-income and 11.0% for poor residents. CT Voices for Children

However Team Malloy/Wyman continue to refuse to require the rich to pay their fair share in taxes.

Malloy himself said he didn’t want to increase the income tax on the wealthy because he didn’t want to “punish success,” even though the wealthy in Connecticut pay a much lower income tax rate in Connecticut than they would in neighboring states and the middle class continues to pay double of what the rich pay in state and local taxes.

The fact is that Connecticut’s Constitution is profoundly clear;

“All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority.” Connecticut Constitution

Yet here we are, in 2015, and major policy decisions are being made without providing the people with an opportunity to even know what changes are being considered, nor will taxpayers have the opportunity to tell lawmakers that they should require that they wealthy pay their fair share before knifing middle and working class families, yet again.

Connecticut’s Democratic legislators would do well to tell Malloy and their leadership – No vote on a “Budget Deal” until the rich are required to pay their fair share and the public gets a chance to know exactly what their government is considering doing to balance the state budget.

Governor Dannel Malloy – On a Mission to destroy Connecticut’s hospitals

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The story behind the story…

September 2015:  Less than two months after signing into law a new state budget that raised taxes and cut spending, a state budget that Governor Dannel Malloy claimed was balanced and would maintain the state’s vital services, came the news that a massive budget deficit was opening up for this fiscal year and would be even bigger in the next fiscal year.

In response, Governor Malloy announced a series of emergency budget cuts, the largest aimed at Connecticut’s hospital.  Malloy proposed cutting reimbursements to hospitals by another $240 million over the two year period.

The state funding is provided to help hospitals pay for the care they provide to poor and uninsured patients, including those who use the federal government’s Medicaid program.

In response, the Connecticut Hospital Association wrote;

“We are outraged that the Governor would slash Medicaid funding that is desperately needed to care for the most vulnerable people in our state.  With nearly one in five Connecticut residents on Medicaid, withdrawing even more funding from the state’s obligation is outrageous.  It puts a tremendous additional strain on healthcare providers, who already provide services with reimbursement that is nowhere near the actual cost of delivering that care.”

“Sweeping cuts to this vital program will hurt patients and their communities, and further cripple our state’s economy.”

December 4, 2015:  When the Connecticut General Assembly meets next week to adopt a budget deficit mitigation plan designed to close the projected state budget deficit – a budget deal that remains secret – it is widely expected that a portion of the cuts to Connecticut’s hospitals will be restored.

So what is the real situation about hospital funding in Connecticut?

The story itself provides an extraordinary glimpse about how Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly have used budget gimmicks to hide tax increases, while making state budgets appear balanced.

In this case the tactic goes back to a new taxing scheme that Governor Dannel Malloy proposed and the legislature adopted in 2012.

At the time, the initiative was designed to maximize the amount of Medicaid funding the State of Connecticut received from the federal government.  As part of the plan, a small amount of the extra funding would be used to provide hospitals with additional state aid while the majority of the new federal funds would be used to balance Connecticut’s General Fund budget.

The Hospital Provider Tax:

In summary, a new hospital tax was added to hospital bills in 2012.  Called a “provider tax,” hospitals were required to tax their revenue which, in turn, provided the State of Connecticut with about $350 million in new taxes.

The state then reimbursed the hospitals the $350 million along with an additional $50 million to help offset the growing cost of treating poor and uninsured patients.

Since the state of Connecticut could then report to the federal government that it had “increased” it’s overall Medicaid spending for the poor and uninsured by $400 million, the federal government increased its reimbursement to Connecticut by $200 million.  [As one of the nation’s wealthier states, Connecticut gets a 50% reimbursement for its Medicaid spending – meaning that for every $100 million Connecticut spends on healthcare for the poor, Washington sends the state a check for $50 million.]

In the first year of the program, the state of Connecticut took the $200 million in additional funding it received from the federal government and used $50 million of that money to pay for the increased aid to hospitals and used the remaining $150 million to balance its General Fund budget.

But by the second year, Malloy and the legislature began to change the program.

Not only did the State of Connecticut start keeping all of the “new” federal reimbursement for itself – to balance the budget – but it also stopped returning an ever larger share of the underlying “tax” money to the hospitals.

In year 2, the hospitals still paid in $350 million to the state of Connecticut, but now they ended up getting back $27 million less than they actually paid in.  Malloy and the legislature grabbed a total of $188 million to balance the budget.

The state’s bait and switch got worse as time went on.

Hospital Tax State Aid to Hospitals Hospital Tax Money used to balance state budget
2012 $349,100,000 $399,500,000 ($50,400,000)
2013 $349,100,000 $322,800,000 $26,300,000
2014 $349,100,000 $214,800,000 $134,300,000
2015 $349,100,000 $80,600,000 $268,500,000
2016 $556,100,000 $60,275,000* $495,825,000

*Data from the Office of Fiscal Analysis via CT Mirror

As the chart (above) reveals, in addition to keeping any and all of the “extra” federal funding that Connecticut collected, the state continued to skim off more and more of the actual hospital provider tax revenue.

Making the situation even worse, since the state was no longer using the hospital tax money to pay for healthcare for the poor, the amount of federal reimbursement dropped.

The CT Mirror explained;

“But that also meant Connecticut’s take from Washington dropped over the same period – despite rising Medicaid reimbursement rates. The state would have collected an extra $330 million in federal money over the past three years had it not scaled back this arrangement with hospitals.”

In then in September 2015, Malloy announced he was grabbing almost all of the remaining money to balance Connecticut’s growing budget deficit.

In September, Malloy announced plans to rescind three-quarters of the money hospitals were expecting to receive back from the tax this year, as well as three-quarters of the funding for a pool of money for six small, independent hospitals.

Instead of maximizing federal funding and doing a better job compensating hospitals for the care they provide to the poor and uninsured, Malloy and the legislature have created a program that doesn’t maximize federal funds and strips hospitals of the money they need.

And now, every week, we hear more and more bad news about staff being laid off, programs being curtailed and small hospitals being gobbled up by big hospitals.

It is fair to say that no governor (and legislature) have done as much damage to Connecticut’s system of comprehensive hospitals…Hospitals that serve as the health and economic anchor for many communities.

For more details and a list of how individual hospitals were cut see under Malloy’s September 2015 proposal see – http://ctmirror.org/2015/09/18/malloy-orders-emergency-budget-cuts-in-response-to-weak-stock-market/

You can read about the issue via the following Wait, What? posts

Malloy must take responsibility for many of the these hospital layoffs

When it comes to our state’s economy, our elected officials are our own worst enemies…

“There are no new taxes” – Governor Dannel Malloy 6/6/13

 

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

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As a result of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s unrelenting attack on Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees will be voting at their next meeting to raise tuition by as much as 23 percent for Connecticut students on top of an additional 7 percent increase.

Despite what will be another massive “tax” increase on Connecticut middle class families who are trying to ensure that their children get a college education, the additional tuition funds will not be enough to prevent equally appalling program cuts at UConn.

The new tuition increase comes in addition to the 25 percent jump in tuition and fees that UConn adopted four years ago.  The earlier tuition increase was required to balance UConn’s budget  in response to the record cuts Malloy proposed during his first year in office.

Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its public colleges and universities means that the cost of tuition at the University of Connecticut will have increased by more than $6,000 during Malloy’s tenure, an increase of nearly 50 percent.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting, faced with a $40 million deficit due to the decline in state support, UConn officials are submitting a proposal that would implement a series of tuition increases beginning with a 6.6 percent increase in 2016, and averaging about 7 percent for each of the next three years.

As the Courant explains;

“A key issue for the university has been the state’s shrinking share of the university’s costs. The state’s block grants have grown in recent years, but those increases have not kept pace with the university’s rising costs…

During the past eight years, the state has cut UConn’s funding by approximately $82 million, including $40 million in rescissions.”

When Malloy was sworn in, the State of Connecticut’s appropriation (Block Grant and Fridge Benefits) covered about 18% of UConn’s overall budget.  This year, the level of state support dropped to 16% of UConn’s budget and that reduction does not count the more than $40 million in budget rescissions that Malloy has implemented over the past five years.

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

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As CT Newsjunkie reported late yesterday,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a statement Rell observed,

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

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

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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