Editorial: Sen. Kane “has the right perspective on bringing the budget into balance.”

November 30, 2012

Groundwork for a tax increase

Waterbury Republican-American editorial
November 30, 2012

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the tax-and-spend liberal’s playbook, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is playing it to perfection as he launches an austerity drive aimed at closing a $365 million budget gap.

Here’s how it works: You propose cutting very popular programs, or expenditures most people consider essential. When the victims howl, you shrug your shoulders and explain the only alternative is tax increases.

And when the increases are passed and the bodies are buried, no one realizes the magnitude of the wasteful and even fraudulent government spending that went untouched and unmentioned.

Among the targets of Gov. Malloy’s rescissions are the state’s poorest residents served by the Department of Public Health, $2.2 million; Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, $7.8 million; Department of Social Services, $32.3 million; Department of Education, $8.4 million; and the Department of Children and Families, $18.3 million, among others.

Additional agencies that will endure cuts, including the University of Connecticut and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, have strong and vocal constituencies. Many of these cuts will be condemned roundly in the precincts of Gov. Malloy’s liberal base.

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, Senate ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, has the right perspective on bringing the budget into balance. “In the (Department of Children and Families), there was $18.3 million in cuts to programs,” he said in a published report Thursday. “Listen, we have $30 million in administrative salaries. I’d rather see us cut some bureaucrats in Hartford, rather than cut programs for people who need it.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously, The Associated Press came out Thursday with a report on the lavish treatment of some favored bureaucrats. “At three of the four Connecticut State University campuses, the president receives an extra $25,000 each year to spend without having to provide any documentation,” according to the AP report.

A spokesman for Gov. Malloy pointed out such perquisites are not under the governor’s jurisdiction. But make no mistake, he has sufficient leverage to demand cuts in benefits such as this one. And does anyone doubt such perks can’t be found in accounts the governor does control? Have Gov. Malloy and his fiscal brain trust given any thought to putting the brakes on any number of State Bond Commission expenditures that will obligate the state to make interest and principal payments, as well as covering operating expenses, for many years?

If Gov. Malloy truly doesn’t want to raise taxes, he’ll steer the legislature toward spreading the pain to the government class, rather than imposing further cuts in programs that actually help ordinary people — or deliver a service reasonable people agree state government should provide. Case in point: Gov. Malloy, who took office in January 2011, says the state workforce has declined by 3,700 since 2008. Judging by the volume of complaints we’ve heard from ordinary taxpayers — crickets — the approach suggested by Sen. Kane is more than meritorious going forward.