Monday, February 18, 2013

The Emperor Has No Clothes.

Last Friday I attended a press conference at the State Capitol with the mayors of some of the largest cities in Connecticut to explain that the proposed budget that was put forth by Governor Malloy will hurt Danbury and the rest of the municipalities in Connecticut.

This was a bipartisan group that all have the same problem.

The recently proposed budget cuts state aid to municipalities - and, does not do what the Governor and his staff claim it does.

By shifting municipal grant money into different pools, (PILOT to ECS for example) the Governor can claim that he has increased education aid when he has not. By placing proposed increases in the Alliance Grant, and calling them ECS increases, the Governor forces the 30 communities in the program to spend more money to access grant money that by rights they should be given without the strings attached by the State Department of Education. By eliminating the Pequot Fund, and adding borrowed money to programs like LOCIP, the Governor forces cities and towns to spend on hard costs like fire engines and equipment, when cities and towns need to pay for firefighters and operational expenses.

It is the ultimate in misdirection, a slight of hand, a three card monte.

Finally, there is no separate line item with funding for school security upgrades. No mention of the monumental task that face municipalities across the state as they design plans and programs to keep staff and students safe after December 14th.The best the administration could do was point out that school security is now an additional use of LOCIP funds, which was an initiative proposed by State Representative John Frey of Ridgefield and adopted in the last special session of the Legislature in December.

Then there is the car tax proposal. Good idea, but poorly thought out, poorly planned and almost a throw away in the budget. Danbury would lose $10 million under the Governor's proposal, and there is no mechanism or thought  as to how that money would be replaced. Hold harmless? Seriously?

Chief elected officials in Connecticut understand the systemic financial problems that face our state. We know that we have to be part of the solution. We want to help, but, be straight with us and be straight with the people who are paying the bills - the taxpayers of Connecticut.

It's probably time to recognize that our state government is close to the edge of being broke, and that the changes that were supposed to save money in the last budget didn't work. The proposed budget is balanced in theory only and with an over reliance on borrowing it will push crushing debt and costs off to another year and to be paid for by another generation. Our state spending is outpacing the rate by which we can generate revenue, and we ended 2012 with zero job growth.

The emperor has no clothes...

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