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

3 Comments

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.

Malloy Budget Plan – Coddle the rich while cutting vital state services

8 Comments

On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, flanked by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the rest of his administration will submit his latest budget plan to a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Malloy’s approach, one that borrows directly from the disgraced trickle-down economic strategies of the Neo-Conservative/Neo Liberal philosophy, will be to balance Connecticut’s state budget by continuing to coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens while cutting critically important health, human service and education programs for those who are struggling the most in today’s troubled economy.

The sad reality is that Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens will be those who suffer most from Malloy’s proposals.

Governor “There Is No Budget Deficit – I Will Not Raise Taxes” Malloy will also propose shifting more of the burden for paying for government services onto Connecticut’s local property taxpayers, despite the fact that Connecticut’s property tax system is regressive and unfairly burdens middle-income and working families in Connecticut.

Finally, yet again, as if to reiterate that Malloy has to have it have it his way or no way, Governor Malloy will be proposing a dangerous and unprecedented power grab that would transfer significant budget control and oversight away from the Legislative Branch of government to the Executive Branch, giving him and his budget chief unparalleled authority over how appropriated state funds are actually spent.

Malloy Policy #1 – Coddle the Rich

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a national non-partisan research organization that works on federal, state, and local tax policy issues,

Connecticut’s wealthiest pay 5.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes.  Connecticut’s middle income households pay 10.7 percent and Connecticut’s poorest pay 10.5 percent on state and local taxes.

Connecticut’s tax system is unfair, but rather than address this situation, Malloy has consistently refused to require that Connecticut’s wealthiest pay their fair share in taxes.

As in the past, Malloy is promising “not to raise taxes,” although that pledge does not include his upcoming proposal to raise the gas tax and re-institute tolls to pay for his transportation initiative after having diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from the Transportation Fund, over the past five years, to cover costs in the General Fund.

Malloy Policy #2 – Cut vital programs including those for Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents.

As reported by the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf last Friday, Malloy promises ‘very austere’ state budget next week; Connecticut’s Governor will seek to balance the upcoming state budget on the backs of those who rely the most on state services.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy warned Friday that the spending plan he will offer state legislators next week will be a “very austere” budget with no tax hikes.

The Democratic governor, who needs to close a deficit projection topping $500 million in the preliminary budget for 2016-17, also all but ruled out use of the state’s modest emergency reserve.

“It’s an austere budget. I think everybody knows that,” the governor told reporters after the State Bond Commission meeting in the Legislative Office Building.

[…]

And while Malloy offered few hints on where he would cut, he did offer one big clue.

When asked whether the emergency cuts he ordered in September to close a shortfall in the current fiscal year might offer a blueprint of where he would look for savings in 2016-17, the governor responded: “It’s a start.”

Those emergency cuts fell most heavily on social services, hospitals, and public colleges and universities, though they touched most discretionary areas of spending, excluding municipal aid.

Malloy Policy #3 – Shift tax burden to the unfair local property tax

While details are scarce about where some of Malloy’s budget cuts will fall, one area that is definitely on the chopping block will be municipal aid.

Despite repeated promises not to cut aid to cities and towns, Malloy has done exactly that in recent years.  While cuts in municipal grants “reduce” the state budget, the costs are simply shifted onto local property taxpayers.  It is a  strategy that is even more unfair to middle and lower-income families in Connecticut.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s latest report also reveals that while Connecticut’s tax system is regressive, its property tax system is even more unfair.

Connecticut’s wealthiest pay 1.2 percent of their income in property taxes, the Middle Class 5.0 percent and the poor pay 5.3 percent of their money in local property taxes.

Malloy has already proposed cuts to the state property tax exemption for middle-income homeowners and additional cuts in municipal aid will further shift the overall tax burden onto the backs of working families in Connecticut.

Malloy Policy #4 – Seek greater executive branch control over budget

Finally, in what may be one of his most outrageous and irresponsible proposals yet, the power-hungry Governor is proposing to destroy critically important legislative oversight and control of the state budget.

As Phaneuf reports in today’s CT Mirror entitled, Malloy to seek greater executive branch control over budget

Sources familiar with the governor’s 2016-17 budget proposal say it won’t assign agency funding to many specific programs, moving instead toward the block-grant system used for state colleges and universities.

A block-grant system could tilt the balance of power away from the legislature, since lawmakers often use line items in the budget to shape executive agencies and programs and set priorities.

[…]

But the proposal still is likely to spark a battle between the branches of government over control of line-item appropriations and a debate over whether block grants would mask funding cuts for programs before a new budget is implemented…

[…].…Several sources familiar with that said it would give the Executive Branch broad new discretion to decide how budgeted funds are spent within each agency.

The legislature often directs agencies to operate programs “within available appropriations.” In other words, run the program as well as possible with the funding the legislature assigns.

But what if specific line items for programs don’t exist anymore? If a department is given one large block grant — and the authority to divvy up the funding as it sees fit — then administrators, and not the legislature, would decide which programs must get by with less.

The General Assembly’s modern role in molding state government and its policies through budgeting was shaped by a dramatic confrontation in 1969 with another Democratic governor, John N. Dempsey, and the legendary Democratic state chairman, John M. Bailey.

The Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted unanimously to defy Bailey, who then played a major role in setting the legislative agenda, and override Dempsey’s veto of the Legislative Management Act, a reform measure reflecting a desire by lawmakers to be, if not a truly equal branch of government, then at least a more assertive partner.

It led to the hiring of non-partisan professional researchers and financial analysts, who allowed legislators for the first time to make budget and policy decisions independent of the executive branch.  In 1970, a constitutional amendment further strengthened the General Assembly by authorizing it to meet annually, beginning in 1971.

Malloy’s budget plan will be made public on Wednesday.  At that point, the only thing that will stand in the way of more fiscal and political disaster will be the members of the Connecticut General Assembly…meaning that Connecticut citizens have good reason to be concerned.

The Decline of the Great American Middle Class

7 Comments

Whether driven by benign-neglect or outright disdain, the “advanced capitalist system,” along with the nation’s two-party, “incumbency” form of government continues to undermine the country’s Middle Class and hold down those without the resources to live full and fulfilling lives.

As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a professor of Economics at Columbia, recently noted,

“The world’s quintessential middle class society is on the way to becoming its first former middle class society.”

According to a new Pew Research Center report,

“In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined…marking the first time in the center’s four decades of tracking this data that the size of the latter groups has transcended that of the first.

[…]

Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

[…]

And middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.

[…]

Meanwhile, the far edges of the income spectrum have shown the most growth. In 2015, 20% of American adults were in the lowest-income tier, up from 16% in 1971. On the opposite side, 9% are in the highest-income tier, more than double the 4% share in 1971.

[…]

The hollowing of the American middle class has proceeded steadily for more than four decades. Since 1971, each decade has ended with a smaller share of adults living in middle-income households than at the beginning of the decade.

Previous observations about the decline of the middle class and growing chasm between the super wealthy and everyone else, on this blog and elsewhere, has generated complaints about the inappropriateness of discussing what they claim to be a call for “class warfare.”

But it is long past time for the nation to drop that defense and for our elected officials to recognize that if we continue to refuse to discuss inequality, equity and fairness, we most certainly will be talking about class warfare, but we will be talking about it in the context of the very real frustration, anger and violence that will continue to grow and spill into the streets of the cities and towns across the United States.

Call it class warfare or use some other euphemism, but talk about it we must.

And that discussion needs to begin with the prompt adoption of a tax system that is fairer and more just, in which the wealthy are required to pay their fair share.

As Wait, What? readers know, in Connecticut the wealthiest pay about 5-6% of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class about 10-11% and the poor in excess of 12%.

Connecticut’s legislators could make a profound impact by ending the budget games and empty political rhetoric and actually changing the tax structure to reduce the burden on the Middle Class and all of those who are striving to make ends meet.

Making Sh*t Up – the New Normal in American and Connecticut Politics

8 Comments

If there is one overarching message coming out of the Republican Presidential Debates it is the realization that candidates for the highest office in the nation have absolutely no problem with simply making sh*t up.

But the buffoons seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States certainly aren’t alone.

Unfortunately for Americans and American Democracy, making sh*t up has become the new normal across the political spectrum, even (or especially) right here in Connecticut.

Take for instance the case study of Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy and Connecticut’s Fiscal Crisis

As Dannel Malloy is fond of saying, thanks to Republican Governor Jodi Rell and a Democratic General Assembly, he “inherited” a $3 billion budget problem when he took office in January 2011.

In order to put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order Malloy instituted a massive tax increase, significant budget cuts and a large concession package with Connecticut’s State Employees, although he did manage to protect and coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers in the process.

Although his comprehensive financial “fix” didn’t actually solve Connecticut’s budget problems, Governor Malloy set that truth aside and spent the entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign claiming that Connecticut’s state budget was balanced, that there was no state budget deficit, and that if re-elected, he would not propose or accept any tax increase in a second term as governor

According to Malloy, the road ahead was filled with the “green lights” of fiscal stability and that upon entering a second term he would steer the ship of state without having to make cuts to vital services, seek additional concessions from Connecticut’s State Employees or raise taxes.

It was Dannel Malloy’s “Read my Lips” moment and despite the very real warning signs about Connecticut’s growing fiscal problems, Dannel Malloy would not budge from his 2014 political talking points.

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

Although Connecticut law requires the Governor and his administration to provide a truthful assessment of the state’s fiscal situation, the Malloy administration refused to even admit there was a growing budget deficit until after he won re-election in November 2014.

Malloy finally admitted what was already known, that Connecticut’s state budget wasn’t balanced but he and his appointees insisted that they would simply cut spending sufficiently to balance the 2014-15 state budget.

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

But when Connecticut’s state fiscal year came to a close eight months later, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified that State Government ended the year with a $118.4 million budget deficit.

No amount of reality would stand in the way of Malloy’s political rhetoric, prior to or even after the 2014 Election.

On February 3, 2015, just weeks before Malloy presented his new proposed state budget for Fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, his budget chief briefed the media.

When asked whether Malloy would be able to keep his campaign “no-tax-increase pledge?”

“YES” was how Ben Barnes, Malloy’s Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management responded

Four months later, when Governor Malloy signed the new state budget into law, the “no-tax-increase pledge” was replaced with about $1.8 billion in additional taxes, 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.

In addition to shattering his “read my lips” promise on taxes, Malloy’s budget also made significant and drastic cuts to a range of vital services and programs.  The hardest hit included Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.

And was that new budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?

Not a chance.

As we are now learning, just four months into the fiscal year, Connecticut’s “balanced budget” is becoming unhinged.

More cuts to vital services and still Connecticut is facing a combined $600 million budget deficit in this fiscal year and next…and the hole is getting bigger.

In addition, as a result of failing to properly balance this year’s budget, Connecticut will be facing a $1.6 billion shortfall in the state budget immediately following the 2016 state elections for members of the Connecticut General Assembly.

As the CT Mirror reported this week,

“That means the financial problems facing the Capitol over the next few years are roughly five times the size of Connecticut’s modest $406 million emergency reserve.”

Since Connecticut law requires the Legislature to adopt a 2 year biannual budget, when newly elected legislators are sworn into office in January 2017, they will be faced with a projected budget crisis of well over $3 billion and growing … A problem similar in size and scope to the budget crisis that Malloy “inherited” when he took office in January 2011.

The truth is that after two gigantic tax increases, major cuts to vital programs and a significant State Employee concession package, Malloy is captaining a ship that will face as big a problem as the one he started with five years ago.

To see politicians making sh*t up, you can tune into the Republican Presidential Debates, or you can simply look to see what is being said by Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official.

Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, voters of all philosophies, now would be a good time to demand better at the national level and right here in Connecticut.

What do you know…Democrats balance terrible budget on backs of middle class

17 Comments

More taxpayer money for Malloy’s two new pet charter schools while Connecticut’s public schools face record cuts is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the budget the Democrats are scheduled to pass later today.

Candidate Den Malloy said that, if elected, he wouldn’t raise taxes but the budget Malloy and the Democratic leaders are pushing includes at least $500 million in new tax revenue with a vast share of those funds coming from Connecticut’s middle class.

And all this while Malloy, with the help of Democrats in the legislature, continue to allow Connecticut’s wealthy to go without paying their fair share!

But not letting the truth get in the way of some good political rhetoric, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and Democratic legislative leaders released a joint statement yesterday (Sunday) declaring victory and patting their own backs.

The statement began,

Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senate President Martin Looney, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff announced that they have reached an agreement on a biennium budget. The package takes Connecticut into the future by funding transportation, providing important property tax relief, and funding vital programs.

From Malloy,

“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.”

From Senate President Martin Looney,

“This budget meets the State’s obligations and provides historic property tax relief for the people of Connecticut,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “After years of acknowledging the need to change our Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, this year, we delivered revolutionary changes by taking into account the relative need for assistance based on the percentage of tax exempt property in each municipality. We also begin to provide substantial relief for car owners and high mill rate municipalities on their car tax.”

From Speaker of the House Brendon Sharkey,

“This budget protects hard-working, middle-class families by providing property tax relief through additional aid to our communities, and funds vital services people rely on every day by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay a little bit more. The legislature worked closely with the governor to finalize a budget that represents the wide ranging priorities of our diverse state, and sets us on a path that encourages continued economic growth. Concerns over some provisions in earlier versions of the budget were heard and reflected in the final deliberations,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). 

Impressive words to be sure… they just happen not to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…

But now, thanks to the CT Mirror, we learn the real truth;

The CT Mirror’s new article is entitled, New budget includes $200 million income tax hit on middle class and reads,

A last-minute component of the new two-year state budget deal includes a $100 million-per-year income tax hike on Connecticut’s middle class, sources confirmed early Monday.

That hike would not come in the form of increased paycheck withholding, but rather by reducing the credit households can claim to offset their local property tax payments from $300 to $200. It also would change eligibility rules that further reduce the relief some households would receive.

[…]

A state tax incidence report released in December confirmed what state officials have long asserted, that the property tax is the most regressive levy in the state. That report found households earning less than $48,000 per year effectively pay nearly one-quarter of their annual income to cover state and local taxes. That also includes families and individuals that rent their housing, and whose rental charges reflect the property taxes their landlord must pay.

But the middle- and lower-income families also are sacrificing on the tax side of the new budget — and more than originally anticipated.

The planned restoration of a sales tax break on clothing costing less than $50, which is worth $280 million to consumers over the next two years, is dropped …

[…]

Add in the $200 million extra in income taxes that the middle class will pay, and this amounts of more than $500 million in extra revenue coming to the state from middle- and lower-income households.

You’ll want to wait until your lunch has settled, but for the details about the Democrat’s budget debacle read the full Mirror story which can be found at:  http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/01/new-budget-includes-200-million-income-tax-hit-on-middle-class/

 

LOL – Malloy says spending cap made him propose record cuts to state library

4 Comments

In a Connecticut Post article earlier this week entitled Malloy defends library cuts, librarians plan rally, Governor Dannel Malloy, “defended his proposed $3.5 million cut to the State Library System…claiming that the lingering effects of the recession and constitutional limits on increased spending forced his hand.

[..]

“Speaking at a lunch break in daylong seminar on the future of Connecticut libraries, Malloy recalled loving Stamford’s Ferguson Library while growing up…”

But Norwalk’s Librarian observed that the Governor’s proposed million-dollar cut in interlibrary loans, “could set the system back 40 years.”

To that Malloy washed his hands of responsibility saying the state’s spending cap required him to make the cuts.

Sadly the librarians didn’t know that the lame excuse was coming from a governor who has used every gimmick in the book, and some new ones to boot, in order to get around the state’s spending cap during his first four years in office.

At least the news report makes no mention of the librarians putting their fingers to their mouths to shush the governor for failing to tell the truth.

At the very least librarians, and all Connecticut citizens, should go back and read some of the articles written by the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf.

Not long ago Phaneuf explained, “While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy portrayed the spending cap as an unavoidable constraint on the next state budget, governors and legislators from both parties have skirted that constraint repeatedly for a decade.”

During Malloy’s first term he got around the spending cap by simply “moving spending outside of the cap.”  As the CT Mirror reported, Malloy’s tactics included the following;

  • Redirecting $78 million owed to charter schools to cities and towns, which then forwarded the funds to the charter schools. Since state aid to poor municipalities is cap exempt, almost 60 percent, about $45 million, moved outside of the cap.
  • Moving a federally funded health care program for poor adults outside of the budget reduced spending under the cap by $446 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Lawmakers proposed this change and Malloy signed it into law.
  • Borrowing $86 million per year to fund municipal aid increases. Borrowed funds are outside of the budget. Otherwise grants given to all but the poorest communities, would have counted against the cap.
  • Proposing that $60 million in revenues in 2014-15 be intercepted before technically being recorded in the budget — and counted against the cap — and spending them off budget instead to support the state university system. The legislature declined to adopt this proposal

Phaneuf notes that,

“Since 2011, the Democratic governor has proposed or signed into law hundreds of millions of dollars in fiscal maneuvers to shift spending out from under the cap.”

And he adds,

“And GOP lawmakers have short memories…having voted overwhelmingly to adopt a 2007 budget that shattered the cap by almost $700 million — a record in the cap’s 25-year history.”

Not to be bothered by the truth, the “do as I say, not as I do” governor recently appeared on Ray Dunaway’s WTIC-AM 1080 morning show to explain that Connecticut’s legislators “are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the rules.”

“There’s a spending cap,” Malloy added. “… If we had a half-billion dollars more money, we can’t spend a half-billion dollars more money. So they’ve got to get used to the idea.”

This from the governor who broke the rules each and every year he was in office…Much like his predecessor, Governor Jodi Rell, who failed to keep spending within the cap as much as Malloy has.

Truth be told, Malloy’s decision to propose record cuts to the state library and a variety of other important and critical services is either because he actually doesn’t support those services or he is unwilling to come up with the revenue necessary to balance the state budget…

And he is unwilling to raise the revenue because he refuses to ensure that Connecticut’s wealthier residents pay their fair share in taxes.

It would be a lot simpler and more honest if Governor Malloy would simply tell the truth and admit that coddling the rich is more of an important priority for him than properly funding libraries, schools or a variety of human services.

Yes we are failing our children…especially here in Connecticut

1 Comment

When Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the podium in February 2015 to announce his proposed austerity budget for the State of Connecticut he announced a plan in which more than half (54%) of his proposed budget cuts came from children’s programs.

More than half of Malloy’s total cuts aimed at programs to support children when, “spending on the ‘Children’s Budget’ – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget.”  [CT Voices]

In response to the criticism leveled at Malloy, a recent CTNewJunkie headline explained, “Malloy Administration Pitches ‘Lean’ Government, Denies Being Heavy Handed.”

Lean government, not being heavy handed?

According to recent economic data, the nation’s wealth grew by 60 percent over the past six years.  That translates into about $30 trillion of additional wealth, with the overwhelming majority of that money going to the country’s super rich.

During the same period, the number of homeless children grew by 60 percent. “For Every Two Homeless Children in 2006, There Are Now Three.” During this past winter approximately 138,000 children were defined as homeless by the US Department of Housing.

Children now account for nearly 50 percent the country’s food stamp recipients.  More than 16 million children get about $5 a day to pay for their meals, but that was before Congress and the President cut $8.6 billion from the food stamp program over the next ten years.

In 2007 about 12 in every 100 kids were on food stamps. Today that number stands at 20 in every 100 children.

According to UNICEF, the UN’s agency for children, the United States has one of the highest  child poverty rates in the developed world.  The report explains, “[Children’s] material well-being is highest in the Netherlands and in the four Nordic countries and lowest in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the United States.”

And Here in Connecticut… 

About 113,000 Connecticut children live in the lowest levels of poverty, or about 14.5 percent of all the state’s children…nearly one in every six children.

Connecticut’s child poverty rate is up nearly 50 percent from 2000 when the number of Connecticut children living in poverty was just over 10 percent.  At the time, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to adopt an official policy stating its goal was to reduce poverty by fifty percent by 2010.  Connecticut failed.  Rather than reducing child poverty by 50 percent, the level of child poverty has increased by 50 percent since we entered the 21st Century.

Today the level of child poverty is more than 47% in Hartford; 40% in Waterbury; and over 32% in Bridgeport, New Britain and New Haven.

Using a more appropriate definition of poverty, living under 200% of the federal poverty level, the harsh reality is that almost 1 in 3 Connecticut children are growing up at unacceptable levels of poverty.

Yet in the face of the mounting levels of child poverty, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy proposed more cuts to a variety of vital programs including those that are aimed at helping the state’s poorest children.

And is budget slashing comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay a far lower percent of their income in state and local taxes than the middle class and the poor and the rich are charged a much lower income tax rate then their brethren pay in New York and New Jersey.  The problem is that Malloy refuses to raise the income tax rate on the wealthy because, as he said before, he doesn’t want to “punish success.”

Connecticut’s elected officials can and must face the reality that we are failing our children.  They can start by requiring the state’s wealthiest residents to pay their fair share in taxes – thereby eliminating the need for cuts to children’s programs.  See – Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich.

And as for Malloy, one wonders if his only defense is the fact that he is not alone in his disdain for truly putting children first on the political agenda…

What is perhaps the most telling point of all is that there are two nations in the World who have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — South Sudan and the United States. 

[Numbers about child poverty at the federal level come from A Nation’s Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of Children in Poverty.]

Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich

2 Comments

As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s failure to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, his proposed state budget includes disastrous cuts to vital state services and programs while continuing the policy of coddling the rich and unfairly burdening the middle class. While Malloy’s state budget proposal includes tens of millions more for wasteful and destructive programs like the Common Core, the Common Core SBAC testing and charter schools, Malloy put forward a budget that reduces funding for education and cuts deeply into programs that directly benefit Connecticut’s children. According to CT Voices for Children, a Connecticut based research organization, more than half of Malloy’s budget cuts (54%) are aimed at Connecticut’s children.  Add in the cuts for those with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges and the other budget cuts aimed at the state’s other vulnerable citizens and the legislature is forced to deal with a budget that Malloy and his administration should be ashamed of. At the same time, Malloy’s plan demands that the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly continue to undermine the state’s middle class and the economic well-being of their own constituents in order to “protect” Connecticut’s wealthiest residents. The data highlighting Connecticut’s regressive tax system is clear, concise and extremely disturbing. After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay an average of 5.5 percent for their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5 percent for middle-class families and more than 11.0 percent for the state’s poor. Rather than a progressive tax system, or even a flat tax system, Connecticut has developed a state and local tax system that allows the rich to skate free, while leaving the burden of balancing state and local budgets onto those who make far less. Keith Phaneuf reported the situation accurately when he wrote in today’s CT Mirror,

“Just before the income tax’s enactment (1991), the state taxed capital gains at 7 percent, and dividends and major interest income at rates as high as 14 percent. Those rates went away when the income tax was enacted. Earnings from these sources instead were subject to the top income tax rate, which stood in 1991 at 4.5 percent. The top rate has risen just three times in the 24 years since then – to 5 percent in 2003, 6.5 percent in 2009 and 6.7 percent in 2011 – and still remains below the old capital gains and dividends rates.”

The harsh reality is that Connecticut’s state and local tax system is designed to punish middle and lower income families. But Democratic legislators could push back against Malloy’s unfair budget policies. Connecticut’s top “marginal income tax rate” is 6.7 percent, a rate that is much lower than that in New York (8.82%) or New Jersey (8.97%).  Increasing the marginal income tax rate on Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers (those making more than $1 million) to bring it in line with New York State would bring in over $400 million a year. Eliminating a number of the useless sales tax exemptions that lobbyists have pushed through for their clients would raise another $400 million a year and ending some of the corporate welfare (tax expenditures) that Malloy has been doling out would mean that Connecticut could have a balanced budget that doesn’t destroy vital state services. The solution to Connecticut’s budget crisis is actually not hard to identify, but it does require conviction and honesty on the part of Connecticut’s elected officials…and that apparently is exactly what they are lacking. The next six weeks will determine what side of the battle the members of the Connecticut General Assembly will take.  The choice is simple.  Continue to follow Governor Malloy’s disastrous policies or actually come down on the side of their constituents and make the rich pay their fair share.

Governor Malloy Administration’s Gag Order is nothing short of Putinesque

9 Comments

For even to the most cynical, the recent CT Mirror’s story entitled, “Is it a gag order or the Malloy administration speaking with one voice?” is utterly shocking and should make Connecticut residents extremely uncomfortable and very queasy.

The CTMirror article reiterates the reality that Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is not the Dan Malloy who asked voters to make him Connecticut’s governor in the 2010 election.

Dan Malloy, the candidate, ran on a platform that he would be the “most transparent governor in history.”  He claimed that he supported Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law, that he wanted stronger, not weaker, state ethics laws and that he believed that an honest, just and open government required strong Freedom of Information laws.

But since being sworn in as governor in January 2011, Dannel Malloy has become the least transparent governor in modern history, has consistently undermined and destroyed Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, made a mockery of the state’s ethics laws and has engaged in an unprecedented assault on the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

But his most anti-open government maneuver may very well be the news that Governor Malloy has allowed a directive to go out that prohibits his commissioners and other public employees from talking to legislators (or anyone else) about Malloy’s fraudulent state budget proposal.

As the CT Mirror reports;

Key legislators say a directive restricting what agency heads can tell legislators about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposal is hindering lawmakers in doing their jobs and will push more of the budget-writing process behind closed doors.

“Our job is to negotiate and evaluate and build the best budget possible for the 3.5 million people of Connecticut,” said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, House chair of the Appropriations Committee. “Denying us the ability to do that is denying us our responsibility and our authority as the legislature.”

“I think this is a politically correct gag order,” said Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam, ranking House Republican on the committee. “If we can’t get full answers to our questions, we can’t serve our residents and the state of Connecticut well.”

At issue is a memo Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy’s budget chief, sent last month to Executive Branch agency heads.”

In a stunningly inappropriate, unethical, immoral and arrogant demand, Malloy’s budget director writes, “Requests for new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds should be referred to OPM…Agencies are expected to support the Governor’s budget rather than providing alternatives to that budget.”

While there has always long been an unwritten guideline that political appointees try to defend their boss’ proposals, the notion that Malloy, through  his budget director, would direct public servants, who are paid with public dollars, whose statutory duty is to run a state agency and provide public services,  not to speak with legislators or others about, “new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds” is nothing short of Putinesque.

As for reaction from legislators, the CT Mirror adds,

“Referring to Barnes’ memo, Bye told The Mirror this week that she’s not surprised, “in tough fiscal times, that a chief executive wants to keep as much control as he can.”

But Bye added that the administration must appreciate that the legislature has its own constitutional charge to adopt a budget, and it must have more than just facts and data.

For example, if the Appropriations Committee is considering restoring two programs cut in the governor’s plan, but ultimately decides Connecticut only can afford one, members normally would ask officials in the affected agency which program might provide the most public benefit.

“If we are trying to choose between funding programs, it would be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives,” Bye said. “I think it would make for a better process.”

While State Senator Beth Bye’s conclusion that it would “be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives” is absolutely true, her comment that is a forgone conclusion that “a chief executive wants to keep as much control,” provides cover for Malloy’s reprehensible action.

Wanting to “control the dialogue” is a long way from interfering with the Constitutionally mandated role of the Connecticut General Assembly.

The CTMirror article concludes;

“Barnes wrote Tuesday in a statement to The Mirror that, “We work together, as one administration, with all our commissioners and agency heads. This is a budget filled with tough choices, but they are the best ones to keep Connecticut on a path towards a brighter future. The Governor, through his office and through OPM, remains willing to discuss his budget proposals, or any other specific proposals legislators make, at any time. Executive branch employees are professionals who can’t be expected to publicly advocate for positions at odds with the Governor as a part of their job.”

Barnes statement is a bizarre and weak excuse for a policy approach that promotes secrecy and violates the most basic tenets of an open and transparent government.

The Democratic majority in the Connecticut House of Representatives should put down their budget pens, set aside their budget calculators and tell a governor and an administration that has gone amok that no further action will be taken on Malloy’s proposed budget until this outrageous memo is rescinded and Connecticut’s state commissioners and agency heads are instructed to be open and honest with all of the members of the legislative branch of government whose obligation is to review, revise a governor’s proposed budget and eventually adopt a budget that carries the weight of law.

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

10 Comments

Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election campaign was based on a fundamental lie. 

He knew it, we knew it, and now it is visible for all to see.

Having failed to right the ship of state, Malloy engaged in a desperate attempt to save his political career by telling Connecticut’s voters that there was no state budget deficit this year and that he would eliminate the $1.4 billion dollar projected budget shortfall for this coming year without having to raise taxes, cut services or seek concessions from the state employee unions.

Rather than admit that he had inherited a $3.7 billion budget disaster when he was sworn in as governor, but after four years, had created a $5 billion budget shortfall over the next three fiscal years, Malloy resorted to what has become the standard operating procedure for the incumbency parties —he just pretended that reality didn’t exist.

Despite his “read my lips” campaign pronouncements, Malloy went before a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly six weeks ago and proposed a budget that increased taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, shifted hundreds of millions more in state spending to the state credit card and proposed devastating cuts to a broad array of vital state services.

It was a budget proposal that was nothing short of irresponsible.

And then, like a petulant toddler, he stormed back into his room and slammed the door!

The truth is Malloy’s behavior and approach could have been easily predicted.

During the campaign season Malloy used a variety of tricks to sidestep and circumvent Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.  One vehicle he used was a political action committee aptly named Prosperity for Connecticut, a PAC which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from a variety of corporate interests, the most successful fundraising event being the one hosted by the charter school industry.

Fast-forward to his budget speech of February 2015 where Malloy proposed the deepest cuts in Connecticut history to the state’s public schools while calling for a nearly 30% increase in funding for charter schools.

The net result of Malloy’s “plan” for Connecticut would be cuts in local schools, high property taxes, especially for Connecticut’s dwindling middle class, and more money for his campaign donors and political allies who are profiting off Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiatives.

Sadly, for Connecticut, the anti-public school, pro-charter school approach is just one more example of Malloy’s warped priorities.

Yet here we are; a state behind the curve when it comes to economic recovery and well ahead of the curve when it comes to budget deficits, fiscal gimmicks and dysfunctional leaders.

And where is Malloy?

The headlines this past week make it abundantly clear that his detachment from reality has only grown in recent weeks;

From CT MirrorAs deficit options dwindle, Malloy may be staring at a rainy day, and Lembo: Time to fix worsening state budget deficit is now and Larger deficit looms as Malloy warns of more emergency cuts and Malloy’s message: Forget raising taxes, restoring cuts.

And from CT Newsjunkie:  Malloy Tells Lawmakers There’s ‘No Remaking’ The Budget and $172.8M Budget Deficit Just Shy of Trigger

And then there is this;

Malloy: No Changes Expected In Spending Cap (Hartford Courant)

This from a governor who relied on a mix of gimmicks to get around the spending cap over the last four years.  On the state spending cap, Malloy and GOP have checkered past (CTMirror)

Read all of these articles, read any of these articles and the picture will become clear and stark.

Dan Malloy lied to get elected and his strategy, tactics and behavior will send Connecticut and our state government over the cliff and into the abyss.

The only thing that stands in the way of the coming disaster is the Connecticut General Assembly and that doesn’t provide much hope or optimism.

Older Entries