New state motto: ‘What, Me Worry?’

July 17, 2012

By State Sen. ROB KANE

A spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office says the latest state budget numbers show “that the governor’s approach is working.”

You recall that approach, right?

• That approach brought you $2.6 billion in new taxes — the largest tax hike in Connecticut history.

• That approach raised taxes on businesses, even though the governor likes to say our state is “open for business.”

• And that approach added to your personal income tax burden by reducing the property tax credit from $500 to $300.

The rest of the country has noticed that approach.

• Forbes magazine ranks Connecticut as 47th among the 50 states as a good place to do business. One reason: high taxes.

• Kiplinger magazine describes Connecticut as a “tax hell.”

• The nonpartisan Institute for Truth in Accounting identifies the Constitution State as the top financial “sinkhole” state in the nation — we’re number one when it comes to being in the worst financial position.

The governor’s approach was an attempt to tax his way out of our problems. It ignored the root cause of Connecticut government’s dilemma: spending.

You see, the governor and the Democrat-controlled state legislature are quite good at spending your money. In fact, they are so good at it that we’re broke.

How broke? The state has kept nearly $50 million designated for workers’ retirement benefits — including $25 million provided directly by employees — in its cash pool used to pay bills. In other words, your state government may end up having to borrow money to cover its own payroll.

But the fiscal jam we find ourselves in has not curtailed spending. The state’s new spending plan still boosts spending by $329 million, nearly 2 percent over last year’s level. State government spending has increased by $1.3 billion over the last two years.

As the spending continues to rise, so will our problems. Residents and businesses are leaving the state. They are currently spending your money on a 9.4-mile busway from New Britain to Hartford. You know the busway I’m talking about. If not, you should get to know it, because it will cost taxpayers about $11,670 per foot to build and about $20 million a year to operate. This money could have been used to fix existing roads and bridges. Instead, buses will soon be running every three minutes between those cities. Will anyone ride it? Will you?

But have no fear taxpayers. The governor’s approach is “working,” so expect more of the same. It reminds me of Mad Magazine cover boy Alfred E. Neuman’s famous motto, “What, me worry?”

Before long, Neuman’s philosophy could become Connecticut’s new state slogan.