Faux warrior for lower taxes [Rep-Am Editorial]

June 12, 2015

Republican American Opinion

Connecticut’s Democratic-controlled legislature has approved, and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he will sign, a $40.3 billion budget for 2015-17. The budget has been widely criticized, largely because it provides for $2 billion in tax increases. (Spending will increase by more than 7 percent.)

Incredibly, Gov. Malloy is portraying himself as an anti-tax crusader. During a June 4 news-media availability, the governor claimed tax increases were foisted on him by the legislature. “I presented a budget that did not raise taxes. No one was prepared to vote for that budget, but that’s the reality,” he said.

Gov. Malloy’s line is dishonest to the core. Throughout the budget process, the governor supported tax increases, probably because he didn’t have the courage to cut spending and compel his state-employee allies to step up to the plate. The conclusion to be drawn is he now is desperate to deflect responsibility for the economic havoc the tax increases assuredly will wreak.

Gov. Malloy submitted his budget to the legislature Feb. 18. It called for a net 6 percent spending increase. Unsurprisingly, it included $914 million in revenue increases, according to research by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. Nearly half of these increases targeted Connecticut’s long-suffering business community; this was the subject of our April 8 editorial “Hold line on business taxes.” Accordingly, it is fair to say the governor flat-out lied when he said his original budget didn’t increase taxes.

Similarly, Gov. Malloy’s fingerprints are all over the budget the legislature approved. As Senate Minority Leader Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, and Minority Leader Pro Tempore Kevin D. Witkos, R-Canton, noted June 5, it is the product of May 30-31 negotiations between the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders. After talks concluded, the governor said, “A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today.” He also called the budget a positive for middle-class Connecticut residents.

Gov. Malloy’s anti-tax act is pathetic. The governor probably is spinning his tax increases so they don’t hurt his chances of winning future elections, or of securing a position in Washington, D.C. Considering Gov. Malloy presented himself during the 2010 campaign as a serious executive who would make state government work, it is ironic that he now is making excuses for a policy choice.

The governor and his Democratic allies own the 2015-17 budget. Republican former Govs. John G. Rowland and M. Jodi Rell and legislative Republicans were not at the negotiating table, and no amount of spin from Gov. Malloy can change that.