Sen. Kane Op-Ed: Shortage of will at Capitol

September 13, 2013

(The following appeared in the September 13, 2013 edition of the Waterbury Republican-American.)

Shortage of will at Capitol

By Rob Kane

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” — Vince Lombardi

Lombardi, the football coaching legend, spoke of how the lack of will is the difference between success and failure. At the Capitol, that lack of will is on display for all to see. There is a lack of willingness by majority Democrats to stop spending your money. That lack of will leads Connecticut government to tax you more and borrow more to cover its bills.

Take, for example, the recent news of the state ending the 2012-13 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $398.8 million. A surplus may sound like great news for taxpayers, but we get a much different story when we peel back the budget onion. Consider the following and see if you can keep your eyes on the moving dollars:

$220.8 million of the $398.8 million surplus gets transferred to the General Fund. Why? To support current state spending.

The remaining $178 million gets deposited into the Rainy Day Fund.

Putting money away for a rainy day is good, right? Not so fast. The current balance in the Rainy Day Fund results from the state making a financially imprudent decision not to prepay debt last year.

I would argue Connecticut’s budget surplus means you, the taxpayers, are being overtaxed. That surplus could be used to repeal July’s gasoline-tax increase, the largest in state history, but it won’t be.

Why won’t the surplus go toward much-needed tax relief? It all comes back to the lack of will Vince Lombardi spoke of. The lack of will to cut spending leads to all sorts of budget twists, turns, contortions and sleights of hand. Your money gets moved around again and again so it can continue to be spent on boondoggle projects like the $1,000-an-inch busway from New Britain to Hartford. In the meantime, state debt grows higher and higher, pushing us closer and closer to Detroit’s fate.

On this, you can be sure: That lack of will is going to produce even higher taxes in the near future. State Medicaid spending, an area where Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office had forecast savings of $168 million from curbing fraud and overpayments, is now exceeding the program’s budget for this year. Meanwhile, Obamacare’s impact on Connecticut is leading to more state spending. In other words, the money is going out but not coming in. Odds are, the majority party in Hartford will not miraculously find the will to make cuts to cover the growing budget hole. Instead, it will reach deeper into your pockets in 2014 to achieve the balance it needs.

So when you see your state legislator at the local grocery store or high school football game this fall, be courteous but direct. Ask him if he has the will to cut spending and cut taxes. Specifically, ask him how he voted on the gasoline-tax increase and on the recent gimmick-filled state budgets.

If you don’t like the answers, just do what Coach Lombardi would do: change the players. You have the power to elect representatives and senators who have the will to turn our state’s finances around.