A Connecticut Worth Fighting For

August 7, 2009

Concerned citizens ask if we finally have a state budget deal. My answer is no. I remind them that, although the Governor proposes a budget, it is the legislature’s responsibility to enact it. The Democratic majority’s most recently proposed budget calls for significant tax increases that are not acceptable to the Governor or to Republican legislators. Negotiations continue.

Even with a veto-proof majority, the Democrats have not yet been able to secure enough votes to pass a budget. This puts the state at risk for having its bond rating downgraded, and increases the likelihood we will be forced to drain the Rainy Day Fund to retire last year’s $1 billion deficit. Downgrading the state’s bond rating means it will cost more to borrow money. Spending the Rainy Day Fund now means we won’t have that money to offset our projected two-year $8 billion deficit.

What is most appalling is that Connecticut is now the last state without a budget. Even California has finally acted, responding to their fiscal problems by reducing government spending to 2005 levels. Here in Connecticut, Republican legislators have offered budget proposals to push government spending back to 2007 levels. We Republicans believe that the responsible thing to do is reinvent state government so that it is smaller, less expensive, and more efficient. Our budget proposals reflect that goal, which we can achieve by controlling both taxes and spending.

From my point of view, the Democrats seem more concerned about protecting state employees than about stemming the loss of private sector jobs. This attitude will not help revitalize our economy. A leader in analysis and forecasting, IHS Global Insight, predicts that Connecticut will join Michigan, Ohio and Indiana in being among the last states to emerge from the recession sometime after 2015.

Employers do not need professional research to tell them how Connecticut’s current fiscal climate is affecting them. Recently, I met with an employer of seven who told me that when the legislature’s Democratic leaders talk about wanting to tax the wealthy, they are talking about him. Also, I heard from the executive director of one of the nation’s largest associations of investment companies who is wondering if relocating from Fairfield County to New Hampshire, where there is no state income or estate taxes, might be in his members’ best interest.

Raising taxes on the so-called wealthy is tantamount to chasing employers out of state. Driving out the wealthy creates a domino effect. The businesses they operate will close, leaving their employees without jobs. Unemployed people do not buy cars, eat at restaurants, or shop for new clothes – leading to more failed businesses.

The state budget we pass now will determine the quality of life in Connecticut for years to come. The incentive to create and excel once propelled our state to prosperity and made Connecticut the land of innovation, home of Yankee ingenuity. That is the Connecticut worth fighting for.