Tax hikes grab headlines, increased spending crux of Malloy’s budget

By State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi
Stafford - Somers - Union - posted Thu., Mar. 3, 2011
Contributed
A monthly column by state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Gov. Malloy’s biennium budget proposal has certainly grabbed headlines. I agree with the many who hail it as an “honest’’ budget that doesn’t use accounting gimmicks to look “balanced,” nor does it continue the recent tradition of borrowing to pay for operating expenses. With a projected $3 billion deficit  –  $7 billion over the next two years – the governor’s budget proposal actually increases state spending for the next two years. We’ve heard promises for smaller government and shared sacrifice, but it seems sacrifice is only meant for taxpayers, not government. Unfortunately, this budget would increase state spending and our taxes.
The governor cites his budget spends no more than the amount appropriated for the current fiscal year, but according to his own budget documents, total spending increases of more than $900 million. Specifically, Gov. Malloy’s biennium bottom line calls for an increase from this year’s $19.3 billion budget to $20.2 billion for the second year.
Gas, electricity, alcohol and sales taxes will all go up, with new taxes added to hair cuts and clothing, such as socks priced under $50 – just to name a few – to pay for government’s spending addiction. These types of tax hikes hit middle class residents the hardest. Those who will suffer most are the ones providing these services: our already vulnerable struggling small businesses.
Taxes were promised to be a last resort. The governor said repeatedly on the campaign trail he would reach into taxpayers’ pockets only after all other options – spending cuts, governmental consolidations, creating more efficiencies – were accomplished.
Connecticut families have to work within their budgets and employers have to meet a bottom line to survive. It would be one thing to ask taxpayers to sacrifice and pitch in as a part of the solution to our problems. It’s an entirely different thing when you say you are making government smaller, all the while proposing to spend and tax more. That is what makes this budget so hard to swallow.
There are some consolidations in the budget which are to be appreciated, however, they do not reach the real potential savings available. Gov. Malloy proposes to shrink 81 budgeted government entities into 57. This, however, only produces $10 million in savings; miniscule in the context of a $7 billion deficit. Let me give an example of one such proposed consolidation. The proposal to merge the Department of Environmental Protection with the Department of Public Utility Control creates a new acronym – DEEP – but a close analysis bears no proof the hybrid yields any savings.
Earlier this year, I and a coalition of fellow lawmakers offered a comprehensive legislative agenda based off of a “Common Sense Commitment” we made during the fall. The proposal outlined potential savings through consolidations, concessions, contracting with private services, selling troubled assets, and rolling back overall spending levels to previous years. Our ideas maintained educational aid to cities and towns. We called it the Common Sense legislative agenda and accomplished billions in state savings.
To me, a call for “shared sacrifice” means all parties – taxpayers, labor unions, businesses and anyone else with a stake in fixing Connecticut’s broken bureaucracy including the government itself – must share in the responsibility. There will likely be many more rounds of negotiations and proposals put forth, however, beginning the effort with government spending hikes doesn’t seem to be the best place to start.
This legislative session lasts through the beginning of June. Please contact my Hartford office at 1-800-842-1423 or visit my website at www.RepPenny.com if you have any questions or concerns about the state budget. I’d like to hear from you.


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