Criminals getting state pensions. Professors using a one time opportunity to change retirement plans for six years. If Connecticut lawmakers do not muster the strength to make such common-sense changes to the way state pensions are handled, than we may have a long road ahead of us to get Connecticut back on track.
Civil Service Reform
At the Department of Transportation’s training facility in Newington massive sheets of paper are taped to the walls and lined with blue painter’s tape and dotted with multi-colored post-it notes and cut-out paper stars. In the room are perhaps ten employees with the Office of Early Childhood Development. There is a table with snacks of Goldfish crackers and bottled water. This is a Kaizen training session. Part of Connecticut’s LeanCT program aimed at making government more efficient.
The General Assembly passed a budget last week that stops driving Connecticut backward. The question is: will we take the next step and start driving forward? Last year, lawmakers passed the second-largest tax increase in state history, just five years after the largest tax increase. This year’s budget, while not good, was at least a temporary rejection of last year’s approach. It remains to be seen whether it was really a change of direction or merely a case of election-year stagefright.
The traditional image of the union member as being a working class, blue collar factory worker has been replaced by a new reality: the state-employed bureaucrat enjoying perks and high pay at taxpayer expense. Figures show that six in 10 union members work for government. While some of them plow roads and keep us safe, many more are social workers, white-collar administrators and highly paid professors. Connecticut ranks fourth in the nation for the number of union members who work for government after only New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
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.
When local law enforcement makes a drug trafficking arrest, the court has the ability to seize property - including cars and money - thought to be a part of the illegal operation. Vehicles and other property are then sold at auction and the proceeds are split between several state agencies. The practice is known as civil asset forfeiture and it brings in millions to state agencies. But some local police departments are slow to pay up.