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Union leader calls spending cap a ‘red herring’

During yesterday’s public hearing on Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap – the cap that was supposed to keep a lid on state spending – AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier appeared to be angling for some uncivil discourse as she launched into a litany of barbs directed at Yankee’s president, Carol Platt Liebau.

First, Pelletier called the spending cap, a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by a majority of the state’s voters in 1992, a “red herring,” intended to divert taxpayers’ attention from the implementation of an income tax.

Then she accused the Yankee Institute for Public Policy of wanting government to fail.

After disdainfully attacking Yankee by invoking the names of other free-market groups, Pelletier implied that Yankee wants to sell Connecticut’s public employees down the river.

The Sweet Fragrance of Facts

Then it was Carol’s turn to talk and she brought the conversation back to the grownup table.

  • The constitutional spending cap is anything but a red herring. If someone thinks it’s a red herring, Carol pointed out that it says more about them than it does about the voters of our state who overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment 24 years ago.
  • Unfortunately, many lawmakers have moved money out and around the cap several times by creatively ‘redefining’ it. Last year was a perfect example when they removed payments to the state’s pension fund from the spending cap calculation.
  • The Yankee Institute is not aggressive about people; it is aggressive about problems. We are concerned about the welfare of state workers. Connecticut’s massively unfunded pensions are likely to hurt them someday unless we get our act together. Unequal Pay, a study Yankee released last year, showed that state workers, on average, earn 25 to 46 percent more than private sector employees with the same skills doing the same job. Yankee is simply seeking parity with the private sector.

There has been an explosion in spending by our state government for the past 24 years. Here’s the bottom line: Yankee Institute wants to work with everyone, unions, legislators, and citizens to get that growth under control. Our goal is to restore Connecticut as a thriving state where all our citizens are free to succeed. No hidden agendas. No red herrings.

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