What a difference a year makes. Last year, Senate President Martin Looney presided over the passage of a budget that included $1.8 billion in tax hikes and canceled tax cuts. Those tax increases fell largely on businesses and wealthy state residents. Last night, Looney seemed to repudiate his actions of a year ago, as he shepherded a budget through the Senate that included over $800 million in cuts to planned spending, and contained no major tax increases.
If you like your vegetables locally grown, you might take your government the same way and for many of the same reasons. It’s easier to have confidence in local government. You know the people involved, and you might even be able to observe it in the making.
Connecticut suffers from an approach to public policy that’s laser-focused on today’s urgent problems, while leaving tomorrow’s important challenges unaddressed. With lawmakers yet again cobbling together a budget at the last minute, time grows increasingly short to change the trajectory of our struggling state. A common sense approach to restoring Connecticut’s vitality should help us.
Last year Connecticut taxpayers worked until May 15 to pay all of their tax bills, tied with New Jersey. This year we fell behind New Jersey by nine days with our Tax Freedom Day last in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. Now we work until May 21 to pay all of our tax bills, meaning they consume more than a third of our collective income. It’s troubling that Connecticut residents have to work until May to pay for all layers of government: federal, state and local. But even more concerning is that moving to New Jersey could mean an extra week of take-home pay for many Connecticut residents.
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.
In 1992, an overwhelming majority of voters approved a constitutional amendment that enshrined a spending cap in the state’s constitution. The cap was part of the deal lawmakers made with state residents with they implemented an income tax. But – after 24 years – the spending cap still has not been fully implemented. This is because lawmakers have failed to do their due diligence and define key terms in the spending cap definition.