Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn (Sarah Darer Littman)

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The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.

In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.

Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.

Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.

It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.

As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,

Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.

Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:

 “A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”

As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.

“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.

Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”

“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.

What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation

Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_herbsts_let_the_eat_cake_moment_shows_need_for_transparency_at_uconn/

The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….

For more on UConn and its problems, read;

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

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

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

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

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

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

As CT Newjunkie reports;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the CT Mirror Reported,

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

According to the news story;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.

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

They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget. [Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!] (6/3/2015)

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

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

The School Bus Seat Belt Account was created following the tragic January 2010 school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools.  Following the accident, the Connecticut legislature kicked into action, passing Public Act 10-83.

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

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $ 175, using the extra $50 per person to create a funding stream for the important program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Phaneuf explains;

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

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

[…]

Budget counts on big labor savings

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

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

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

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

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

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

And out of balance it will be…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey Connecticut – Nothing to worry about as the ‘Catastrophic Structural Failure’ crisis grows

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Today’s CT Newsjunkie headline reads – 2016 Budget Is Back In The Red – $141.1M

In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, [Malloy’s budget chief Ben] Barnes said the state’s revenues have slipped again and the budget is experiencing a $141.1 million shortfall. That’s just three weeks after the General Assembly closed a $220 million budget gap.

The additional $141 million deficit that the Malloy administration is now admitting to comes on top of the $220 million deficit that was announced a couple of months ago, which came on top of the approximately $600 million in deficits that had been previously announced since July 1, 2015.

The appalling truth is that with about 70 days left in the fiscal year, the state budget approved by the Connecticut General and signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy, last spring, was out of balance by over $1 billion.

Should it come as a surprise that the state budget that Malloy signed and deemed to be balanced was actually underfunded?

Hardly….

Last June, on the day the Connecticut General Assembly adopted this year’s state budget, the Wait, What? post read The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget and a few weeks later came an update entitled, CT’s Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse.

Yet, speaking about the glory of the newly adopted state budget, the President of the Connecticut State Senate called it, “one of the best in his 35 years in the general assembly.”

And from Dannel “No New Taxes” Malloy came what may have been the quote of the year as Malloy exclaimed,

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today. This agreement will help Connecticut now and in the long-run — it helps transform our transportation infrastructure as we aim for a best-in-class system. It supports our schools, supports the middle class, and supports vital programs for those who need it most. Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term, making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Yet despite those bizarre pronouncements, Malloy and his political operatives continue to pretend that it is Malloy, himself, who is the voice of fiscal responsibility.

Note that along with today’s announcement about the growing deficit, Malloy issued a statement saying;

“The question is no longer whether we’re in a new economic reality, it’s what we’re going to do about it.”

Wait, What?

Malloy is actually claiming that he is the one prepared to deal with the “new economic reality” in a responsible manner?

It was only 11 weeks ago when the February 3, 2016 Wait, What? headline reported, 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.”

[…]

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.

[…]

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.

Here is the reality.

What we are witnessing is a “Catastrophic Structural Failure” of leadership and as Connecticut’s fiscal house burns to the ground, Malloy, Wyman and their team continue to function as if the whole situation is nothing more than a political game in which the contest is to see who can come up with the best sounding rhetoric and political soundbites.

To them it may all be a game – a joke – but the damage from their actions is raining down on the people of Connecticut who are suffering and will continue to suffer under state leaders who have completely lost their ability to decipher reality, let alone act on it.

If Malloy’s determination to coddle the rich and deny the fact that additional tax revenue will be needed to ensure a fair, balanced and appropriate state budget, is not challenged and reversed, Connecticut will continue its parachute-less plunge toward destruction.

Legislators – Make Malloy veto the only fair, honest and effective way to balance the State Budget.

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After ordering massive budget cuts to a variety of programs that provide critically needed support for some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens and making record breaking cuts to Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, this year’s Connecticut State Budget is still $220 million in deficit.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy claimed that the State Budget he signed into law last summer was balanced and that he had succeeded in putting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, in truth, that budget missed the mark by nearly $1 billion dollars.

Over the last few month Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly have instituted deep and sweeping cuts that undermine some of Connecticut’s most vital social, health and education programs and services.

To make matters worse, Malloy is now withholding funds that Connecticut’s hospitals and non-profit providers of community services need to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents get the essential services they need.

With things getting worse by the day, Democratic leaders in the Connecticut legislature are now saying that they are poised to make even deeper cuts to programs as they flail around in an effort to balance the budget.

See:  Legislative Leaders, Malloy Continue Negotiations Over 2016 Budget Deficit (CT Newsjunkie), Senate Democratic leaders confident deficit-mitigation cuts will pass (CT Mirror), Legislature To Vote Tuesday In Attempt To Close Budget Deficit (Courant)

But there is a simple, honest and effective way for legislators to balance this year’s state budget and it is a solution that will allow them to restore some of the funding for the most important state programs and services.

However, Governor Malloy doesn’t like the idea so Democratic legislators are simply pretending that the best solution for the people of Connecticut doesn’t even exist.

It is time for Connecticut legislators to dismiss Malloy’s bullying.  He is a governor, not a king!  Their duty is to their constituents, not to the power hungry governor.

The best, most honest and most effective solution is for the members of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives to do the right thing and pass a budget deficit mitigation package that requires the super wealthy to pay their fair share.

If Governor Malloy’s decides that his priority is to coddle the rich while the rest of Connecticut suffers, let him veto the bill and face the political consequences.

The solution is extremely simple.

As the non-partisan research group Connecticut Voices for Children have reported;

  • Connecticut’s poor families pay about 12.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • Connecticut’s middle income families pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • And Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

As a direct result of Governor Malloy’s ongoing effort to protect the rich, Connecticut’s wealthy pay FAR less than they would if they lived in Massachusetts, New York or New Jersey..

The harsh, but unspoken, reality is that Connecticut’s middle class and working families are subsidizing Connecticut’s wealthy.

It is a policy that is unfair and needs to stop.

Connecticut’s public officials can eliminate the budget deficit by simply making Connecticut’s tax system fairer.

Depending on how it is actually structured, increasing the tax rates on wealthy resident’s capital gains or personal income would result in $250 million to $400 million in additional state revenue this year.

Instead of cutting vital programs and shifting even more of the burden onto local property tax payers, Connecticut elected officials should dismiss Malloy’s rhetoric and adopt a budget solution that is fair, honest and effective.

The question is, will elected officials do the right thing for their constituents or join Malloy by aligning themselves with the state’s wealthy.

 

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.

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