Letter: A Different View on State Budget
To the Editor:
In its editorial last week, Greenwich Sentinel stated that Democrats and Republicans “must work together,” but it is Democrats “that have refused to come to the table, literally.”
Let’s get the facts straight. Governor Malloy proposed his budget back in January, which was then debated by various committees, and vetted by budget authorities. The Republicans waited until after all hearings were concluded, and first proposed their budget at the end of April. Indeed, on the day that the Republican budget was proposed, it was in deficit by over a billion dollars. Then, instead of actually cooperating with the Democrats to create a bipartisan budget, the Republicans waited until the last hours of the last day of the session to reveal another budget and demand a vote on it. Democrats had already proposed a special session devoted entirely to finalizing a budget, but Republicans balked, instead pulling their budget, unvetted, and with virtually no advance notice, out of their hat.
Greenwich Sentinel claims that the reason a bipartisan budget wasn’t created was “because there is a significant block of Democrats in the legislature who are unwilling to see the fiscal reality of our situation.” That is a strange interpretation indeed, because, though there are some Democrats who would have voted against the governor’s budget, it is Republicans who have refused to create a bipartisan budget. It is their stonewalling, exactly like their brethren in congress in Washington, that is to blame for failing to create a budget.
The Sentinel claims that “fiscally negligent tax-and-spend Democrats are literally holding our state hostage.” Really? In fact, Governor Malloy just finalized an agreement with state unions that reduces costs by over $1.5 billion over the next biennial, and $25 billion over the next 20 years. It also reduces unfunded OPEB liabilities by 25 percent, or $5 billion. Yet Republicans refuse to support that agreement, not Democrats.
And the claim that the Republican budget “doesn’t raise taxes”? Take a closer look. The Republican budgets call for eliminating estate taxes on a tiny handful of the state’s wealthiest, and paying for that revenue reduction by cutting the state earned income tax credit for low-income, hard-working families, the people who most need support from the state. According to University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst, the Republicans’ last-minute budget shifts over $100 million in costs onto the university and UConn Health, certainly increasing the already high burden on tuition for Connecticut students. The Republican budget also dramatically cuts aid to municipalities by canceling revenue sharing from the state sales tax for towns that had agreed to limit the property tax on cars. It’s not clear what else was in that budget, because no one had time to examine it closely before the last-minute rabbit was pulled out of the hat.
The Sentinel claims that “Our state is quaking from fiscal irresponsibility. We cannot go year to year without a sound financial foundation.” Really?
Perhaps Greenwich Sentinel’s editors need to be reminded that under Governor Malloy, the state’s workforce has been cut by 2,600 employees, that Connecticut’s government sector employment has been reduced to the lowest level in 18 years, that Governor Malloy has fully funded the state’s pension fund every year he’s been in office, something that Republican governors Rowland and Rell failed to do during their 16 years in office.
Perhaps the Sentinel needs to be reminded that beginning back in 2011, Governor Malloy, with the support of the Democratic general assembly, created two new tiers for state employees, substantially reducing benefits and lengthening terms of work before retirement, and that the governor has balanced the budget despite total intransigence from the Republicans, who have refused to vote for any of his budget proposals for six years. The Sentinel needs to be reminded that Governor Malloy and general assembly Democrats have been taking the hard decisions to balance the state’s budget, despite the fact that revenues are no higher today then they were a decade ago.
This governor and the general assembly Democrats have taken the tough decisions to right the ship of state. We have yet to see if the Republicans will do anything but stonewall.