This time of year, children are told that Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice to find out who has been naughty or nice. However, Santa isn’t the only one who makes a list every year. Leading experts and organizations across the country also rank states by their public policy. In this ongoing series, we will see which “naughty” lists Connecticut landed on and make small suggestions to help the state be a little “nicer.” Check back every day from now until Christmas for a new entry!
The Connecticut Spending Cap Commission concluded its last meeting on Monday unable to reach agreement on a definition of “general budget expenditures,” which would be subject to Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap. The commission voted 11-12 against a proposal by William Cibes, which recommended gradually phasing in increases to the cost of the unfunded liabilities the following year. The year long delay would continue until 2022, at which point all the unfunded liabilities would be subject to the cap.
In 2016 Connecticut borrowed $327.4 million for public projects, which included $4 million in fees for Connecticut agencies to oversee the projects, essentially borrowing to pay the cost of its employees. Those fees have added up to more than $61 million since 1999. Each year the state pays interest on these costs.
Tuesday, voters across Connecticut spoke, loud and clear. They are demanding better jobs; an affordable, sustainable state government; and politicians of both parties who are willing to work together to fund our state’s priorities without constant tax increases. With your help, Yankee stands ready to help achieve these goals – in 2017 and beyond. We have heard our state’s residents, and we have developed policy proposals that can drive real reform.
Connecticut has been meeting its payments for the past few years. This is commendable and responsible behavior. Too many states, fearing the immediate implications of budget crowd-out, choose to pay less than 100 percent of their required contributions. However, the Connecticut pensions systems’ structural problems make even 100 percent payments woefully insufficient. Debt levels are going up, in part because of inflated discount rates.
Twenty-five years ago Gov. Lowell Weicker vetoed a state budget. In his veto message, he got one thing right. “We will not set employment levels and then drum up programs to make work,” he said. To this day, Connecticut doesn’t set priorities. We start with state employees and end with ...