In the early morning hours on September 16, the Connecticut General Assembly voted to pass the Republican-sponsored tax-neutral budget bill that had been approved only hours earlier by the State Senate. The bill is now on its way to Governor Dan Malloy, one of the nation’s least popular governors, for signature.
What will surprise you, as it did those of us who live in the Nutmeg State, is that the GOP budget passed even though Democrats control the Assembly, Senate, and Governor’s mansion. It was an act of bipartisanship done in the interest of the people — something all Americans have been longing for. And they did so as Connecticut faces a $5 billion budget deficit and bankruptcy.
Before the budget passed, Democrats attempted to force their will by dropping a 900-page budget bill, two months past the deadline and just hours before the historic vote, on members of both parties. It seemed all but certain that this behemoth of a spending bill would pass by party-line votes, all but sealing Connecticut’s demise and guaranteeing future tax hikes on the middle class, as Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature.
But a brave group of Democrats who recognized the dire state Connecticut is in crossed the aisles and voted against their party's proposed budget. For that, we must thank them and look to the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R) and State Assembly Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R), who stood firm and had budget bills ready for debate nearly three months ago.
So how did this come to be? Connecticut, one of America's wealthiest states, has been bleeding jobs and revenue for years. Democrats have controlled the state legislature for three decades, and they have failed to fulfill financial obligations, leaving gaping holes in state-funded pensions and other commitments. The Democrats' solution was to raise personal and corporate tax rates all while failing to make any of the tough decisions required to stop the spending problem.
As such, high income earners, along with Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric and Aetna, have begun fleeing the state. All have cited fiscal uncertainty and tax issues as their reasons for leaving. It also caused ratings agencies to lower Connecticut’s outlook to near junk status. This has worsened Connecticut’s revenue and jobs problem, not made it better.
The question now is this: Will Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy do the right thing and sign the bill into law, or push the state deeper into uncertainty and fiscal crisis at a time when jobs are fleeing left and right, and the middle class is suffering? He has already threatened to veto it.
Gov. Malloy will veto budget, has reached out to D and R leadership to set up discussions on how to move forward: https://t.co/nUd3Y13STM
— Governor Dan Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice) September 18, 2017
Connecticut faces a looming, multi-billion budget deficit in the coming years if serious fiscal reforms are not enacted and if the state fails to implement pro-growth policies — the problem has too far gone to correct it through budget cuts alone. But you have to start somewhere, and this budget is a good first step.
So, Dan Malloy, the ball is now in your court. Do the right thing for the future of Connecticut, her middle class constituents, and the children who will inherit the world we have created for them.
Sign the budget.