The Wait, What? Blog was created in January 2011. Since then, 2,340 articles have been posted to the site. In turn, the commentary pieces have generated well in excess of $2 million hits.
One of the most constant refrains has been the problems and dangers associated with the excess debt that is dragging Connecticut down and the irresponsible failure of the state’s elected officials – both Democrat and Republican – to deal with that mounting crisis
Initial posts to Wait What? included More on the issues underling Connecticut’s State Employee Pension System (1/25/11) and Connecticut’s state pension fund in its worst shape since the state began saving for pension obligations in the mid-1980s. (2/1/11).
Over the years came additional posts such as;
Connecticut: The Republic of Debt (6/19/13)
And many, many more….
The effort to alert, warn and educate citizens about the fact that elected officials are failing to address Connecticut’s extraordinary debt crisis highlights the words of Jonathan Kozel, the great public education advocate and award winning author, who once wrote;
“Now, I don’t expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.” – Jonathan Kozol
And as if to prove the point, the debt crisis has gotten even worse thanks to the actions and inactions of Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the Democratic controlled Generally Assembly.
As if to drive the point home, today’s CT Newsjunkie headline reads, Pew: Connecticut Has One of Highest Public Debt to Personal Income Ratios. The story reports;
Connecticut has one of the highest ratios of debt to personal income and the fifth highest ratio of state retiree health care liabilities to income, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released Tuesday.
The report, which measured each state’s pension, health care and debt costs as a percentage of personal income, put Connecticut’s total liabilities at $67.5 billion dollars or 30 percent of personal income.
The ratio of public debt to private income is 8.8 percent, which ties Connecticut with Massachusetts for the second highest rate of public debt. When pension, healthcare and public debt are totaled, Connecticut has the fifth highest rate of unfunded liabilities.
Connecticut’s pension woes are well documented. The state’s pension obligations are about 40 percent funded, according to the 2015 actuarial valuation of the fund. Only 7 other states have a higher rate of unfunded liabilities.
While the information is hardly new, it remains extremely newsworthy.
It is newsworthy, in part, because Connecticut’s politicians are making things worse, not better and because many of them won’t even tell the truth about the crisis.
Take for example, the notorious failure to properly fund Connecticut’s pension obligations.
The new technique for ducking responsibility is to talk about “structural change,” as if we could just pass a law to reduce the problem with unfunded pension obligations.
The fact is that a state employee hired today is placed in what is called Tier III of the Connecticut State Pension System.
Tier IIA was already the least generous pension in New England, Tier III provides is even stingier.
The real reason Connecticut owes so much money to its Pension Fund is that, for the past four decades, the state has FAILED to make the necessary payments into the fund and has even raided the fund to pay for annual budget expenses.
As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf has written over and over again, and the CT Newsjunkie explains today;
The state will have to pay more than $1.5 billion into the pension fund this year to meet the annually required contribution, of which $1.2 billion represents unfunded liability or an amortization payment toward past unfunded liability. An estimated 82 percent of that payment represents the payment for unfunded liabilities. The normal annual cost of pension benefits is less than $300 million.
Had Connecticut been making its payments all along, there wouldn’t be a pension fund problem.
If Connecticut had been funding the Pension Fund correctly, the state would now have about $1 billion available to preserve vital services and begin the process of providing adequate funding to Connecticut’s public schools, and thereby reducing the unfair property tax burden the is helping to crush the Middle Class.
Instead, scarce taxpayer money is going to address the excess debt — and still the debt grows.
Over the four decades, Connecticut has had 3 Democratic governors, 2 Republican governors and an Independent/Republican governor. Not one of them was willing to do the right thing.
A recent public opinion poll listed Dannel Malloy as the 2nd least popular governor in United States.
Malloy’s response was that his “numbers were low” because he was making the tough choices and doing the right thing.
But of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Malloy’s legacy is not about doing the right thing.
Among Malloy’s list of failures is his refusal to properly address Connecticut’s long term debt.
You can read the important CT Newsjunkie story at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/pew_connecticut_has_one_of_highest_public_debt_to_personal_income_ratios/