Democratic Majority’s State Budget Plan Moves Connecticut in the Wrong Direction

June 30, 2009

When she announced she would veto the budget passed last Friday by the General Assembly’s Democratic majority, Governor M. Jodi Rell called it “exactly the wrong budget at exactly the wrong time”. She was right. Instead of helping families and businesses survive during these tough times and positioning the state to prosper in the future, this budget sets the stage for further deficits and steers Connecticut down a path that will make it increasingly uncompetitive.

Although the Governor and the Republican minority introduced several budget proposals this year, the Democratic majority, which commands enough votes to pass a budget at any time, could not produce a budget its members would support during the General Assembly’s regular session. The Democratic majority introduced last week’s budget nearly a month after the session’s end. Despite the extra time, it is unbalanced, unaffordable, and does not clearly explain how the state will close its gaping deficit. As a matter of fact, information provided by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis indicates that this two-year budget is likely to be in deficit by $263 million.

Sadly, the centerpiece of the Democratic majority’s budget plan is tax increases – tax increases on the so-called wealthy, a 25% tax increase on businesses, 30% increase on estate taxes, along with a variety of other tax and fee increases that would result in higher costs for everyone living and doing business in our state. Furthermore, as Governor Rell explained in expressing her decision to veto it, the so-called savings and cuts proposed in this budget are “largely unachievable”. And, finally, this budget does not include transportation funding – a significant part of any state budget.

The majority’s budget was so inadequate that its leaders knew they could not rally enough votes among their own members to overturn a veto. Why did they waste everyone’s time with special session days that cost taxpayers $11,000 a shot?

With a looming deficit of more than $8 billion, this is no time to play politics. It is time to be responsible and look to our future. We still have a golden opportunity to move in the right direction – to reshape and reduce the size of state government.

The State of Maine has done just that – abolished its graduated tax structure and replaced it with a flat rate for nearly everyone. Also, the State of Maine cut government spending in order to promote growth, and attract jobs. The state’s Democratic Governor was asked how he withstood the outcry of giving tax cuts for the rich, and he replied that: “Without employers, you don’t have employees,” adding that “The best social services program is a job.”

The State of Maryland, on the other hand, introduced a millionaires’ tax last year, and the number of residents with more than $1 million in taxable income who filed taxes fell by one-third.

We must not bite the hand that feeds us. We cannot continue to drive away the people and businesses that are the backbone of our state’s economy. If we hold the line on spending now, and spare our taxpayers the pain of further sacrifices they cannot afford, we can position Connecticut to move forward when the economy improves. We can still move in the right direction. The opportunity is there. Squandering it is not an option.