(Valley Gazette) Shrinking. That word sums up Connecticut’s economy.

June 14, 2013

Editorial as it appeared in the Valley Gazette

By Rob Kane

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis points to our state as having the worst economy in the nation. In other words, taxpayers, we are officially going in reverse.

The news that we are dead last rocked the State Capitol just as the 2013 legislative session concluded. The session saw no reversals in the trend to tax and spend. Passed by majority Democrats and opposed by minority Republicans, here’s what the new budget does:

  • Hikes spending by 8.8 percent
  • Contains $315 million in tax increases on gasoline and on businesses.
  • Doubles a charge on our electric bills for funding conservation programs
  • Kills the state’s last remaining check on spending: the constitutional spending cap.
  • Contains “creative” accounting gimmicks such as borrowing $750 million to paper over cash flow problems, raiding environmental and energy funds and transferring $110 million from the special transportation fund to support general government operations.
  • Expands gambling through Keno – a game which Democrat leadership once referred to as a “Misery Tax.”
  • Relies on $557 million of one-time, non-recurring revenue and leaves a $1.3 billion budget deficit. Watch for taxes and fees to be hiked yet again in the near future to cover the deficit.
  • Deals an overly harsh blow to hospitals such as Waterbury Hospital while not cutting government spending.

The budget was an example of how state policy is created when Republicans are not even invited into the room to negotiate. One-party rule in Connecticut has resulted in one-sided, poorly thought-out, extreme proposals which will further burden our children and grandchildren in the form of debt and higher taxes.

Imagine a 486-page budget bill being dumped on legislators’ desks on the final night of the session. The multiple “surprises” contained deep within that bulky document are still being uncovered.

It’s a terrible way of doing business, but I’d be lying to you if I told you things will soon be changing at the State Capitol. We need more legislators in Hartford who can discipline themselves and say we can’t increase spending. All that needs to be said is, “Sorry, we can’t afford that.”

Right now, the decision-makers lack that control.

I am an optimistic person. I hope the federal report which shines a spotlight on Connecticut’s failures will produce a new, more responsible approach to state budgeting. Shame is often the most effective motivator. Meanwhile, governors from business friendly states are now circling Connecticut companies like buzzards.

The alarm clock is blaring. Will we finally stir from our slumber and wake up?