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Delving deeper into Malloy’s proposed state budget

February 21, 2013 Letters to Editor No Comments
In all, there is more than $3 billion in borrowing. In order to stay under the constitutional spending cap, Gov. Malloy has changed the rules by which spending is calculated.

In all, there is more than $3 billion in borrowing. In order to stay under the constitutional spending cap, Gov. Malloy has changed the rules by which spending is calculated.

- Letter to the Editor by Rep. Melissa Ziobron

When I originally reviewed Gov. Malloy’s budget proposal, I did not like what I saw, but, decided to wait until I got deeper into the details before passing judgment over his proposal. Now that I have had time to review it in more detail, sadly I think the budget proposal is worse than I originally thought.

Two years ago, Gov. Malloy had an opportunity to restructure state government and put it in a better position to recover from the economic difficulties and deficit plaguing the state for years. Unfortunately, the idea that one should “never let a crisis go to waste” was lost on his administration.

Instead of shrinking government and reducing spending, the Governor and his legislative supporters have increased spending and raised taxes by a record $1.8 billion.

Today, Connecticut is facing a deficit of $2.5 billion over the next two years and options to deal with this crisis are diminishing. Many thought the Governor would get serious about cutting spending this time. He said months ago that he would not increase taxes in this budget- how could he? Families and businesses are tapped out.

That’s why I was so disappointed when the budget was unveiled earlier this month and it was revealed he would increase spending by nearly 10 percent.

His contention that he would not raise taxes was a bit disingenuous, considering he extended both the corporate surcharge and the generation tax that were scheduled to expire this year. These are payments that businesses and utilities were not expecting to pay and will put jobs and future business growth in jeopardy.

After speaking with a representative of the statewide assessor association, I learned that towns will lose close to $700 million with the elimination of the car tax – not the $560 million that the Governor’s administration estimated.

That is a hole that must be filled and will likely mean higher property taxes.

On first glance, people looking for a little relief from taxes might support eliminating the car tax but don’t be fooled; in practice, this is a distraction from the rest of the budget. This is why I referred to it last week, as the ultimate snowball in the air.

This proposal does invest more money in education grants to towns, but it does so at the expense of other grants to towns such as LOCIP [Local Capital Improvement Programs] and PILOT [Payment in Lieu of Taxes] money.

It also gives additional money to “Allied Districts,” which does not equate to more money in the 34th district.

Investing in education is important, but the Governor does so by reducing local control over municipal budgets.

In my district we have three well-run towns; the state should have less, not more, control over our local budget process. (State Rep. Melissa Ziobron represents the 34th district communities of Colchester, East Haddam and East Hampton.)

In the past couple weeks, we have seen municipal leaders from small towns to big cities, Republican and Democrat, criticize this budget proposal for the harm that it will do to our local governments.

As a candidate, Malloy pledged to make the state GAAP compliant and promised he would never borrow to cover operating expenses. He has yet to make us GAAP compliant and in this budget borrows to cover operating expenses.

In all, there is more than $3 billion in borrowing. In order to stay under the constitutional spending cap, the Governor has changed the rules by which spending is calculated.

The agency consolidation that the Governor totes is equal to 12 positions, not exactly a windfall of savings. On the other hand, the Governor’s staff is not reduced by a single position and his security staff has earned more than a million dollars in overtime. He is not leading by example.

Anyone that has had a discussion with me about our state’s finances knows that I cannot support a budget that relies so heavily on spending, borrowing and taxes when we already spend so much, borrow so much and tax so much.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I pledge to work hard to advocate fiscal restraint and work with my colleagues to achieve a responsible budget.

Posted February 21, 2013

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